Popular American taxi company Uber is plans to expand to a French-speaking West African country following its success in Nigeria, where it has provided more than a million rides in the two years since it started operating in the country, according to Reuters. The mobile service began operating in Abuja in 2014, before branching out to Lagos earlier this year. It has offices in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, in addition to 400 other cities around the world.
Uber’s General Manager for West Africa, Ebi Atawodi, says that the service is in high demand among professionals, students, and party-goers due to its convenience.
“In the central business district of Lagos, there is one ambulance. So in an emergency, how do you get to the hospital, especially if you can’t drive? People know they can get an [Uber] in less than five minutes,” she explained.
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Atwodi says there’s huge potential for Uber to be applied as security for accessing bank loans.
“In the West, the Uber partners tend to drive their own vehicle. In sub-Saharan Africa, they are employed by someone who owns one or more cars and then they employ the drivers,” she said.
“What we are starting to see is that many of these people have moved on from becoming drivers to owning their own vehicles.”
According to Atwodi, they’re able to make the transition because they can provide Uber data to banks in order to show how much they earned per week and how their customers rated them.