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Battle for Africa: Uber and Taxify go into Okada business

At first, it was MaxGo, Nigeria's indigenous company that started the business trend of how you book for bikes through your app or through calls but this time around Uber and Taxify seem to take key interest in this business sector. In a battle for the soul of Africa, Uber and Taxify have renewed their rivalry and this time it is on motorcycles. Uber and Taxify have recorded massive success in cars as we can see the effects in Nigeria especially now, they have diverse with motorcycles. According to a report by TechCrunch, UberBoda and Taxify's Boda are new babies of the taxis giant in Africa.

Global ride-hailing rivals Taxify and Uber have launched motorcycle passenger service in East Africa. Customers of both companies in Uganda and Taxify riders in Kenya can now order up two-wheel transit by app.

uberBoda, as its branded, is Uber’s first motorcycle service offering in Africa, and second globally after Asia. For Taxify, it’s the first two-wheel launch in any of the company’s 20 plus international markets.

The moves come as Africa’s moto-taxis — commonly known as boda boda­s in the East and okadas in the West –upshift to digital.

Taxify’s “Boda” button

According to a rep of Taxify, he said, "For Taxify, the reasons for entering the market were two-fold, “We noticed there was a need for this service because boda haven’t been very well organized or regulated,”

“The other thing was people had to go search for boda-bodas. We want to bring the convenience we brought to regular taxis to the boda-bodas,” said Anoke.

The company has upgraded its Kenya and Uganda apps with a “Boda” button to order a two-wheel taxi.

Taxify also aims to bring the average boda boda ETAs in Nairobi to under four minutes, the current norm for its car services.

Boda boda rates for Kenya will be 30 Shillings base then 15 Shillings per kilometre (108 naira and 54 naira) compared to 85 and 30 for normal car service. Taxify takes a 15 percent cut.

On safety, the Taxify will only hire boda boda taxi riders licensed by Kenya’s National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and who have at least three years of experience.

Taxify will require their boda boda drivers have 2015 or later motorcycles that pass a company inspection “to ensure the quality is on point and our clients are safe,” said Anoke.


The prominence of motorcycle taxis in Uganda prompted Uber to launch uberBoda there, “We’re all about localization and boda moves Kampala,” “If we’re going to be a part of the mobility solution in Kampala, we can’t do that without having a boda product.”

Uber’s Uganda app will include an uberBoda request icon. uberBoda drivers must have proper motorcycle vehicle and taxi licenses to work with Uber, according to Lits. “In addition, we’re ensuring all drivers have two helmets and reflective jackets for their riders,” he said.

Uber expects uberBoda passenger costs to average roughly a dollar per fare. Lits estimates “there are nearly 2 million weekly boda trips happening in Kampala.” The uberBoda motorcycle service is starting with around 100 drivers.

As they gather research from early activity, both Taxify and Uber in Africa said they plan to look more deeply into motorcycle financing plans for drivers, expanded rider training, and ways to build more safety into the two-wheel taxi markets.

“By forcing Taxify boda boda riders to follow existing rules, like not riding more than two passengers at a time, it will rub off and have the kind of positive market disruption we want to see on the boda boda industry,” said Taxify’s Anoke.

“As we get more data as to drivers’ track records, that becomes a proxy for credit, which we’ll look to roll out to the boda industry,” said Uber’s Lits. As TechCrunch reported, Uber Africa experiments with many things the company doesn’t always do globally, such as cash payments and recently launching moto-rickshaw service in Tanzania.


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