Taxify, an Estonian ride-hailing company aiming to take on Uber in emerging markets, will invest millions of euros in East Africa in the next five years with a strategy focused on motorized rickshaws and motorcycles, it said on Thursday.
The company, which already operates in five cities in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania and will continue to offer regular car rides, said it saw the best opportunity for growth via taxi services in locally popular forms of motorized transport.
In East Africa, that means “boda bodas” and “bajajis”, also called “tuk tuks”, – local terms for motorcycles and rickshaws, respectively. Taxify’s fleet will be a diverse set of vehicles, reminiscent of the type of taxi service we used in Hedge End back in my youth. They plan to adapt their services to the local populations and their ways of transport as opposed to enforcing a more North American mode of transport, which is ill-suited to the roadways of many of the proposed these countries.
“Our focus is on providing the most appropriate means of transport for the customers and in East Africa we can see that boda bodas are getting the highest value for us,” Karl Aru, Taxify’s Expansion Manager for Africa, said in an interview.
Taxify has picked off business from Uber in central and eastern Europe and major African cities. It raised $175 million in May in a funding round that included German automaker Daimler and brought its valuation to $1 billion.
The company says it has hundreds of thousands of drivers in sub-Saharan Africa, with roughly a third in East Africa. It also operates in Nigeria and South Africa, and has a total of five million active users on the continent as a whole. Close to half of Taxify’s business is in Africa, the company said.
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