23 March 2016

Nigeria: Uber Personal Ride APP Launches in Abuja

The ride-hailing app Uber has launched in Abuja, the 400th city since it first started helping city residents hail personal commutes.

Abuja is the second Nigerian city where Uber will deploy its technology for linking drivers and commuters since launching in Lagos in 2014.

Ebi Atawodi, general manager for Uber Nigeria, said Uber's reaching into Abuja came from growing interest from people trying out the technology.

"People were opening up the app and we were not even in Abuja yet," Atawodi said at a launch press conference in Abuja.

Experts believe Abuja's structured road network and transportation infrastructure, compared with Lagos, could help the Uber platform perform better.

"Fundamentally, people wanting to go from place to place never changes," said Atawodi.

London, Lagos, Mombassa

Uber launched in Mombassa, Kenya-its 399th city-and is in five South African cities.

In the last one year and eight months, Uber says, its platform connecting independent drivers with over 100,000 potential riders has helped created an estimated 1,000 jobs since its launch in Lagos.

It targets creating at least 3,000 jobs by the end of 2016.

"It will facilitate opportunities for every person. As a driver, you earn a living with time under your full control," said Victor Etuokwu, executive director of personal banking at Access Bank, which partners Uber in Nigeria.

"Anyone can take this opportunity to become a small-scale business in transportation," he said, noting his bank will support streamlined process for vehicle acquisition.

Lagos saw 30% more Uber trips than London did in the first 16 months.

The company credits enhanced security features that come with for guaranteeing security and safety.

The app uses GPS technology to detect a rider's location, links them to the nearest Uber driver-sending them details of car registration and a photo of the driver in advance-and tracks real time the approach of the vehicle.

Uber general manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Alon Lits, says Uber drivers undergo rigorous screening, background and driving history checks with help of police and other state investigators before they can join the platform. Cars allowed on the platform must be of models not older than 2008.

It has also introduced psychometric testing to check the mental state of potential drivers.

Because Uber is strictly online, an electronic order trail tracks every ride before, during and after-and allows both drivers and riders rate each other.


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