East Africa’s biggest telecom firm Safaricom has announced they will launch a ride-hailing company as its seeks new sources of revenue.
Safaricom is joining up with a local software firm Craft Silicon to launch the app that will rival multinational online transportation firm, Uber.
Speaking to Reuters, the telecoms CEO Bob Collymore said they will launch the app called Littlecabs in the next three weeks.
It's effectively a rival for Uber. Easy taxi closed down when Uber came in and what the guys in Craft Silicon did is they came and said look we think we can do this cheaper than Uber.
“It’s effectively a rival for Uber. Easy taxi closed down when Uber came in and what the guys in Craft Silicon did is they came and said look we think we can do this cheaper than Uber. We think we can pay our drivers better than Uber. We think we can put Wi-Fi into the cars. We think we can give you some choices like before when you book your car, you can tell the car which radio station you want in the car,” said Collymore.
Safaricom will aid develop the application as well as offer the network connectivity for vehicles that will be signed up on Littlecabs. Passengers will pay for their rides using Safaricom’s mobile-phone based financial service M-Pesa.
Kenya's Safaricom to launch local rival to Uber https://t.co/NkR25eSUtV— Reuters Tech News (@ReutersTech) June 9, 2016
“The direction of the company is to be more of a platform and if you are a platform then you are of more use to more people rather than being a pipe where you produce a product and shove it down a distribution pipe and the consumer buys it or doesn’t buy it,” Collymore explained.
Uber launched its operations in Kenya in January 2015 and has been hailed for its convenience.
However, local taxi companies in the country have not been welcoming. This year the online taxi-hailing company has had its drivers attacked as well as it cars.
According to reports, the violence is as a result of traditional taxi drivers claiming that they are experiencing undue competition due too undercutting and ‘unfair’ trade practice.
With operations in over 60 countries, Nairobi is not the first and only city that Uber has sparked protests.
Meanwhile, Uber recently expanded its African presence to Uganda and Ghana.
To use an Uber taxi, one simply has to download the Uber app on their phone and request for a cab from anywhere. Once a driver accepts your request, their information, that is, name, photo and car registration number appear.