Just days before the launch, TechMoran contacted Alastair Curtis, the international launcher for Nairobi on his plans and how the firm aims to take on competion that’s already brooding in the city.
For starters, Uber is not a taxi nor is it a taxi or transportation company. Uber is not a franchise, and is not franchised in any city or country. Uber does not employ any drivers nor own any vehicles, it is a technology company headquartered in San Francisco, United States of America.
Now available in over 260 cities across 51 countries and 6 continents, the Uber network aims to evolve the way the world moves, seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through smartphone technology. The firm says it mission is to revolutionize the way citizens of the world move, work and live.
How much has Uber invested in the Nairobi operation?
We don’t disclose numbers but what we can say is we are so excited about launching in Nairobi, bringing the people of Nairobi a service they will love.
Why did it take Uber so long to launch-the vacancies were announced Nov ’13.
Launching in a city or even any new option in a city we are already in, obviously requires a significant amount of planning to ensure the launch process is seamless, our partner drivers are happy and the product is well received by the public. Currently we are in South Africa (Cape Town, Durban, Joburg and Pretoria), Nigeria (Lagos), Egypt (Cairo) and now Kenya (Nairobi).
Uber was founded with the goal of ensuring safe riders for everyone whenever, wherever. Our commitment to riders begins with connecting them to the safest rides on the road and extents to being the most reliable transportation option available, and we will continue to build on this. We are always exploring new ways we can optimise our offer, while maintaining the highest level of safety, quality and reliability across various cities in Africa.
The future is bright for Uber in Kenya. People are loving Uber and the uptake (in just one day) has been really incredible. For riders, we offer the safest, most affordable and reliable ride. Uber is the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to consumer safety and this is all because of the technological innovation in the app. For drivers, they love working on the Uber system because of the flexibility of the service; they can work whenever they want and are not obliged to work in shifts. This means that they can log-on and off when they choose, giving them amazing flexibility in their lives.
Uber’s lead generation software facilitates a powerful entrepreneurship opportunity. Every month going forwards, Uber’s mission is to empower many young entrepreneurs to become small business owners in Kenya. This will contribute significantly to the 50,000+ global entrepreneurs who are empowered monthly on the Uber platform.
So there is always room to grow and expand, and the more options we can look to provide, the more transportation providers we can then partner with. This then furthers our mission of providing the safest, most reliable transport option to riders and greater economic opportunity to drivers.
Which kind of Uber is going to launch in Nairobi-UberX?
To clarify, we don’t own cars or employ drivers. We partner with the existing supply of transport operators and our goal is the match demand with supply, which has been steadily growing. Riders can expect uberX vehicles that are Toyota Corolla’s, Fielder’s or equivalent.
Any legal challenges so far?
We have partnered with the existing supply of licensed transport operators and our goal is the match demand with supply, which has been steadily growing. We are extremely excited about launching in Nairobi and bringing the safest most reliable rides to the citizens of Nairobi, all at the touch of a button.
There have been rumours about an M-PESA integration on the Uber app for payments, has this been done?
We can confirm that we are exploring the possibility of integrating the Mpesa service in our system, but we don’t yet have a ETA on when this is likely to roll out.
How detailed is the driver vetting process in Kenya to curb out drivers with criminal pasts-similar issues happened in India late last year?
Uber’s innovative technology means they are streets ahead of their rivals on safety. Their rider and partner drivers benefit from the following gold standard safety measures, designed to improve reliability and rider journeys.
1) Driver Information:
Uber riders can see their drivers photo, name, vehicle and registration as well as the drivers star rating when booking – providing riders with all the information they need to ensure a safe and secure ride before even stepping into the car.
2) Live GPS-enabled Map:
Uber riders also have access to a live GPS-enabled map throughout their journey and can share this with family, partners or friends, who can then track their swift, secure and safe travel to their destination.
3) Rider Feedback:
Riders can rate their drivers at the end of each journey. Uber’s 5 star rating system means Uber riders can give honest (and anonymous) feedback about the driver taking them to their destination. Drivers who don’t consistently keep customers happy and get good ratings from passengers, are removed from the Uber service. Uber’s rating system means the rider drives the service levels and can give real-time feedback on their trips.
4) Driver Safety:
Uber also takes the safety and security of their partner drivers extremely seriously. Uber is a completely cashless system protecting both riders and drivers. Drivers don’t carry cash; all payments are cashless, electronic and traceable. A rider’s fare is charged automatically and electronically onto their credit or debit card after their trip.
5) Driver Background Checks:
Uber is leading the transportation industry with safety standards second to none. All partner drivers in Nairobi have a commercial license and have insurance, and Uber takes it one step further but ensuring that all partner-drivers undergo a comprehensive biometric criminal background check before they are allowed to drive on the Uber system. In addition, Uber performs regular vehicle inspections to ensure vehicle safety standards are maintained. This makes Uber the safest and most efficient way to get around Nairobi.