Uber has been aggressive on the charm offensive in many markets across the globe. Indeed, it has disrupted the local taxi industry here in Kenya, much to the displeasure of the tradition taxi drivers. Well, it might be time for Uber to switch to defensive tactics as a new taxi-hailing app, Littlecabs enters the Kenyan market.
Littlecabs is a new ride-hailing app made through a partnership between Kenya’s largest telecom company Safaricom and a local software developer. The telecom’s CEO Bob Collymore revealed to Reuters that Littlecabs will be unveiled to the public in three weeks’ time.
“It is effectively a rival for Uber. It is a local competitor which will be cheaper and better for the local community,” Collymore told Reuters in an interview.
Uber launched in Kenya in early 2015 and took off because it was offering commuters lower prices and convenience of not haggling with the drivers over fares. Something the traditional taxi drive did not take lightly; some felt angered enough to attack Uber drivers with at least two reported incidences of Uber cabs being torched. These attacks lead to six regular taxi operators being charged in court with attempted murder and malicious damage to property.
With Safaricom’s backing, Littlecabs will enjoy the telecom’s infrastructure such as network connectivity and Wi-Fi inside the taxis and the use of its mobile money services M-Pesa for commuters to pay the fare.
While much of Safaricom’s attention will remain on its core services; calls, texts, internet and M-Pesa services. Collymore says the telecom is looking for various ways it can increase its revenue, and venturing into the taxi-hailing business is one way.
Riding on the back of the data usage by commuters being driven by Littlecabs, Safaricom is looking to increase its revenue from internet connectivity.