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Uber: Four Years of Changing Perspectives, Driving Economic Transformation in Africa



Alon Lits, general manager for Uber Sub Saharan Africa

By Alon Lits


When Uber was first established in 2009 its mission was to help people everywhere get a ride, safely, quickly and at the push of a button.


Eight years later, that mission remains the same and Uber’s innovative, technology-driven business model is still fundamentally changing the way people think about meeting their transport needs.

For the past four years, Uber has been delivering this same level of transformation across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and with more than 1.8 million active riders using the app, Uber certainly has reason to celebrate its fourth anniversary on the continent this September.


And it’s not just Uber that has benefited from the stellar uptake of its convenient offering in Africa.

The SSA countries in which Uber now has a presence, and the citizens of those countries, are also reaping significant socio-economic rewards thanks to the transformation that the Uber approach has helped to drive.

At an economic level, these benefits take many forms. In many cities, the reliability, immediacy, and convenience that Uber offers to city residents and visitors is having the positive impact of helping to reduce congestion.


In most urban parts of sub-Saharan Africa, single occupant vehicles remain the biggest contributors to gridlock. But increasing numbers of city residents are recognising that Uber offers a cost effective way of sharing their daily commute with others, thereby reducing the total number of vehicles on the roads, while at the same time cutting down on the costly wear and tear that regular stop-start driving causes.


Repeat Uber usage in South Africa is a prime example of these shifting private transport perceptions. This month, almost 25 000 riders each used Uber more than 10 times a week, which points to the increasing adoption of this tech-driven solution, not just as a leisure transport option, but also for work and business purposes. This demonstrates that Uber is a true alternative to private car ownership.


Another significant benefit that Uber is delivering in sub-Saharan Africa is enabling and empowering economic opportunities and offering more choice. The steadily growing number of Uber driver-partners in countries across the region is testament to the appeal of the Uber business model.


That’s because it creates real opportunities for local entrepreneurs to create and enjoy the flexibility and enhanced earnings potential – for themselves and, ultimately, for individuals that many of them bring into their thriving and growing transport businesses.


And growing demand for trips across the sub-Saharan Africa region leads to a steadily growing need for drivers.

Currently more than 29 000 such driver-partners are taking advantage of the earnings generating opportunities delivered by the Uber app. Importantly, the Uber model allows these individuals to be as flexible as they need to be, which means that they are able to earn what they want, when they want to, either as a full-time entrepreneurs or to supplement other sources of income.

Uber investigates partnerships with businesses that bring benefits to drivers, such as the multiple vehicle financing programmes that have been made available to drivers across South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, that reduce barriers to credit and capital.


The first partnership of this kind was implemented in South Africa with WesBank, offering existing drivers access to vehicles at preferential rates, with a view to establishing their own passenger transport business.


This unique model is based on driver ratings and earning potential, as opposed to the norm of credit checks. The model was successfully expanded across sub-Saharan Africa and is being tested in markets across EMEA.

Uber also invests heavily into supporting its driver-partners in their businesses through ongoing technological innovation as well as physical presences in the form of support hubs.


Apart from the existing Greenlight Hubs across SSA, five more of these state-of-the-art Greenlight Hubs were opened in Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, Kampala, Kumasi and Lagos this year and, in addition to offering driver-partners technical and app support, they also offer information sessions and tailored workshops to driver-partners, focusing on training and skills development.

In a region of high unemployment and stagnating economic prospects, Uber’s business partnership approach provides an accessible means for entrepreneurs to not only supplement their own income, but also to become small business owners, thereby helping to improve the lives and futures of individuals, families and communities.


Importantly, Uber’s approach to shifting perspectives of how people in sub-Saharan Africa move around their cities is one of partnership with all stakeholders. Uber strives at all times to collaborate closely with local regulators to understand the challenges they are grappling with in their cities and then help them to develop workable and accessible solutions that benefit people and economies. It’s with this in mind that Uber has just launched Uber Movement in Johannesburg, a new website to help urban planners, city leaders, third parties and the public better understand the transportation needs of their cities.


This partnership approach has always been at the heart of the business because our global experience has shown us that multi-modal transport powered by technology is the best way to promote entrepreneurship, relieve pressure on infrastructure, and deliver safe and efficient transport that helps people connect with work, business and leisure opportunities.

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NIPOST Emerges in Final Selection of World Summit on Information Society Award



The Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) has been selected as one of 90 finalists of the annual World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Prizes contest.

Mr Francklin Alao, the General Manager, Corporate Communications of the agency made this known on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to Alao, WSIS is a global initiative recognising innovative projects that use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to better the world.

He said the finalists known as WSIS champions represent the top 90 projects selected from 492 nominated projects around the world.

“The project that won NIPOST the finalist place is the NIPOST Address Verification System (NIPOST AVS), which seeks to create a centralised and up-to-date database of physical addresses and details of their occupants.

“It is aimed at bridging the gap in our national financial inclusion strategy to empower the CBN’s Know Your Customer (KYC) and improve our national security infrastructure while creating hundreds of jobs in a commercial manner.

“This is one of the new projects created by the organisation to impact on more Nigerians, especially at the rural level and we hope to come out as a winner of one of the 18 prizes at the end of the summit,’’ he said.

Alao said the WSIS Prizes 2018 edition is the 15th edition and will be held in Geneva, Switzerland on the March 20.

The general manager said the prestigious award started since 2012. “It has been recognising remarkable efforts made by entities and organisations from around the world that focus on accelerating socio-economic progress of the whole world as a community,’’ he said.

WSIS champions represent all regions of the world and all stakeholders that deploy ICT to implement WSIS Action Lines and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is a two-tier United Nations sponsored summit on information, communication and information society.

It aims to bridge the global digital divide separating rich countries from poor countries by spreading access to the internet in the developing world.

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FAAN to begin Certification of 4 International Airports



The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) says it has begun the process of certifying the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kaduna International Airport, Port-Harcourt International Airport and Akanu Ibiam International Airports, Enugu.

This is coming on the heel of a similar exercise carried out in 2017 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The Managing Director of FAAN, Mr Saleh Dunoma, made this known on Tuesday at the Gateway Forum organised by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos.

Dunoma said that FAAN was carrying out the certification process in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

He said that the exercise would be completed by the middle of 2018.

Dunoma said that the current drive toward the certification of Nigerian airports was very significant.

“It is not only as a requirement by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, but even more importantly as one of the critical safety targets of the Abuja Ministerial Declaration.

“Very soon, we will certify all the international airports and then, we will focus on the domestic airports.

“All our airports will be certified within a given time frame,” Dunoma said.

He said that FAAN would continue to emphasise the need for safety and security of passengers as well as their comfort at the airports.

Dunoma added that additional patrol vehicles had been deployed for surveillance at the Lagos Airport.

He also said that Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras were being installed at the Abuja and Lagos Airports to monitor activities at all the restricted areas.

He said: “By the time we have all these technology in place, the security will be very tight and no unauthorised person will be able to gain access to these restricted areas.”

The FAAN managing director said that the authority would soon procure sophisticated scanners with capacity to detect any contraband item in a passenger’s baggage.

“What we are currently using at the airports now are scanners that can detect when something is not right in a baggage.

“The security personnel can then focus it on the particular place and if he is not satisfied, he can carry out a manual check.

“But, technology is improving and we are thinking of bringing in sophisticated equipment that can detect anything and very soon, we will get this equipment at our airports,’’ Dunoma said.

He said work had also been intensified in the ongoing construction of terminal buildings at the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports, adding that the projects would soon be completed.

On debts being owed FAAN by domestic airlines and concessionaires, Dunoma said that the agency had worked out payment plans with each of the indebted airlines to clear the backlog of their indebtedness.

He said: “As long as we continue to do business, there will be debts.

“So, you cannot say no airline is owing FAAN. We normally give them grace of two weeks as a policy, because it is a continuous business.

“We came up with a programme of payment which was agreed to by all parties, and this is what we have been doing because we don’t want to put them out of business.”

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FG to auction N70bn bonds on March 21 – DMO



The Federal Government has offered for subscription by auction N70 billion worth of bonds in its March 21 auction, says the Debt Management Office (DMO).

The offer circular obtained from its website on Tuesday in Abuja, said that it would sell N10 billion of a five year re-opening bond maturing in July 2021 at 14.50 per cent.

It would also sell N30 billion seven year new issue to mature in March 202, at an undisclosed interest rate and another N30 billion 10 year re-opening at 13.98 per cent to mature in Feb. 2028.

Nigeria issues sovereign bonds monthly to support the local bond market, create a benchmark for corporate issuance and fund its budget deficit.

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