“So, do you need a ride?”
“No. It’s fine. I’ll just get an Uber.”
This is the conversation I have with people after an event or meetup and we’re about to go our separate ways.
A couple of years ago, most people would go to the roadside and try to flag down a taxi. These days, people just pull out their smartphones, push a button and wait for a car to come get them.
In 2016, Uber officially launched in Accra. It was met with much fanfare. The brand name was already known and people were eager to try out the new experience. It was actually interesting to see Uber embraced in Ghana especially when another company, EasyTaxi, had exited Ghana after seemingly not gaining enough traction.
Uber was the big guy in town but it wasn’t too long before local competition came up to try and get some market share of the new ride-sharing market.
In 2018, what is the state of ridesharing in Ghana and what is the competition looking like.
No More Honeymoon For Uber
When Uber launched, it was the new kid of the block. It was shiny and new and everyone wanted to try it because it was “hip”. All users had to do was download the Uber app, get their location and destination and call a car. Compared to the price of local taxis, Uber seemed like the better experience.
Fast forward and all that shiny new stuff has rubbed off. Uber still works as advertised but it no longer has that “new car smell”.
There have been reports of Uber drivers not knowing how to use their map applications, drivers falling asleep at the wheel, female riders being harassed by drivers, drivers trying to cheat the system, opposition to the use of card payments by riders and a host of other problems.
Some @Uber_Ghana drivers are so annoying? Why do you ask me where I am, then ask me if following the map will bring you to my location?
— Peter Sowah (@PeterASowah) May 9, 2018
Recently, the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) got into a tussle with Uber and went complaining to the Ministry of Transport that Uber was flouting local Road laws by not having their vehicles branded.
But despite all the host of problems listed above, Uber appears to be the default ridesharing option for most users. But what about the competition? What are they up to?
The Return Of Taxify, Enshika and Invisible Local Competition
Soon after Uber launched, competition started creeping into the market. Taxify seemed to be the biggest name to try and get into the Ghanaian market. Whether it was a soft launch or test trial, Taxify came into Ghana and disappeared soon afterward. But they re-emerged and seem to be more engaged now.
But Taxify is not the only competition in town. Enshika, another ride sharing company, operates on the same ride sharing model but their unique selling point is that users can get points for riding and redeem those accumulated points for special deals.
There is also a slew of local competition. There is Yenko, Uru, HelloDelivery, Dropn and others. But it doesn’t appear that they have been able to make a dent as most folks still opt for the major names such as Uber with Taxify and Enshika having some of the spotlight.
The question is, what can major players in the market do better to compete against Uber? Or is this a David and Goliath story with Goliath being impervious to pain and rocks?
Cash or Credit?
It’s safe to say that Ghana is still largely a cash country. People like to pay for most of their purchases using cash. Although there are options to use Bank issued cards, most folks would still rather use cash.
Uber’s success could be attributed to the fact that they offer “Cash” options for riders, although the use of Card payments is still available.
But drivers of ride-sharing apps would prefer riders pay with cash than with cards. There are lots of stories on social media about drivers asking users if they’re paying using cash or their cards for their trips.
Maybe the use of Mobile Money might help facilitate more cashless interactions. But companies like Uber has been slow to implement this even though they announced that it was coming a couple of years ago.
More Room For Improvement
Users in Ghana still largely use Uber for their ride sharing needs. Uber currently operates in both Accra and Kumasi and has more of the spotlight. But Taxify and Enshika might put up a challenge in the long run.
But there are other ride-sharing apps globally who might consider jumping into the Africa market. Lyft, one of Uber’s biggest competitors has already expanded into Canada and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t want to take a plunge into the Ghanaian market.
Didi, the chinese ride sharing company, who basically run Uber out of China, could easily jump into the fray.
The ride-sharing market is not perfect. It’s definitely not a replacement for Ghana’s public transportation but it does make life a bit much easier. Users no longer have to haggle with Taxi drivers over price or ride Trotros if their destinations are close enough to use a ride sharing app.
But there a few things like customer service for drivers and more cashless options like mobile money which could help smooth the transition for new users onto ride sharing.
Uber is definitely leading the race in Ghana in the ride-sharing market. Local competition is available but not as visible with Taxify and Enshika being the most visible. But for how long can Uber be the king of the hill till foreign competition comes in?
Only time will tell.