One can hardly forget the excitement on everyone’s lips when the news came in – Uber was finally making its way into the gold coast city. This came with trepidation, having seen the short stint of Easy Taxi in Accra come to a quick death years back. Although both companies differed in models, the fear of taxi hailing being successful in Ghana was the main concern. Regardless, Uber delved into the market with a successful launch in June, 2016 with #MoveGhana.

Uber Launch – Image Credit: Daily Graphic

Few months in and the reviews started pouring in. Is the Uber Model working in Accra? Is there patronage? Are riders satisfied with the service of Drivers?  Is the Credit Card function efficient or are we going to stick to the cash option, because….Ghana? These questions and a lot more arose within weeks of launch. I remember scouring social media in the early days with the keywords ‘Uber’ and ‘Ghana’ to monitor feedback and the comments by riders could make Donald Trump a saint again.

Realities Of Accra

Now Uber made a lot of mistakes coming into the Ghanaian community. They underestimated the surge of riders and the amount of drivers on the road couldn’t match up. This in turn meant they had to include regular Accra taxis into their pool of Drivers which was their first L. This didn’t sit well with Riders which is understandable. I mean, what if your destination was certain estates in Trassaco where regular taxis are not permitted – what happens then?

It also almost looked like they never trained their Drivers. The complaints on Driver service on Twitter alone was like a never ending RSS feed. From not being able to interpret a simple Map to showing up with a different car than what the app stipulated, the L’s Uber was chopping in Ghana were substantial. An easy taxi episode re-enacted perhaps?

Uber Drivers Had Problems Using Maps On Their Phones

We can’t also forget the very silly habit Drivers had of accepting rides, contacting the rider, asking for the rider’s destination and if that didn’t fall right with them, they’d cancel the ride without informing the rider. As if that wasn’t enough, there was the constant beg for 5-star ratings. At certain instances, the driver would insist you rate them before stepping out of the vehicle. In summary, the general experience at the start was piss poor.

There was also the general ignorance to the service. I remember entering regular cabs and engaging them. I would usually ask if they had heard of the service and what they thought. More times too many, the general consensus was “Bossu, they call me but I no go join – them go just give me Samsung phone and take 25% of my money”. Hilarity! Riders also requesting a ride for a walkable distance all in a bid to “Test the app” was also a thing. Sad stuff.

Lessons Learned?

But the transition from the initial hiccups has been smooth. Though there are still lingering gaps, the company has been able to settle in the Country’s capital with plans of expansion into other cities. Cars on the road are almost commensurate to requests. The general Driver experience has improved. The vehicle quality has gone up a notch. The company feels comfortable in the city that it has begun to give back with #Uberforall. Ghana seems to have embraced the service. In all, it seems like a win for Uber.

They took a big risk coming to a city where taxi hailing services had previously failed and I think that has been a major key in Uber’s success in general. Their risk factor. Their model is highly penetrable, regardless of the city.

Is there a Taxify competition strong enough to give Uber a run for their money in Ghana?

We Observe…

Christopher Opara
Writer, Coder, Tech enthusiast, Digital comms honcho, Music lover, Smooth talker, All-round fun guy - I am the Stig! Email: [email protected]

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