Kenya’s transport innovations, all down to UBER’s arrival


(Posted 19th July 2016)

When Uber first arrived in Kenya’s capital Nairobi it triggered turf wars with local taxi operators which at one stage turned nearly deadly with UBER vehicles set on fire and drivers mercilessly beaten by hoodlums allegedly associated with the main taxi drivers representatives though never conclusively proven in court.
However, undeterred did UBER then roll out at the Kenya coast with their launch in Mombasa and while a few unsavoury incidents happened there too did no second active turf war break out.
Today has UBER’s arrival back then triggered a new wave of innovations with the launch of competing operations, all based on Apps through which users can hail their cab. While Easy Cabs reportedly pulled out of Nairobi have several successors since taken root, most notably one backed by Kenya’s communication and mobile money giant Safaricom named Little Cab. Yesterday did another company launch their services, reportedly also with a significant shareholding by Safaricom, which includes the use of the so called Boda Boda’s, bike based messenger and transport options widely used across the entire East Africa.

While fundamentally in competition does Safaricom back both operations, the Sendy one in direct head on competition with a company launched earlier on in the year, named Mondo Ride.
These are based on the models of Safe Moto, initially launched in Kigali where the company now enjoys major success and then in Uganda’s capital Kampala, where similar operations emerged as a result of the need for safe drives with qualified drivers, working brakes and the availability of helmets for passengers, here called Safe Boda and Tugende Boda. On a different note does even a company use boda boda transport for Kampala city tours under the name of Walter’s Boda Boda City Tours, a sign how new technologies and thinking out of the box allows for new niches in tourism to be exploited.
Back to Kenya though where the latest launch of Sendy, reportedly already operating also in Kisumu and Thika but no doubt destined to also sooner or later cover other cities and urban centres.

All these latest entries in the Kenyan transport market are largely attributed to the launch of UBER two plus years ago, which, after the hostility against the new transport concept died down triggered a wave of copycats now carving out a significant market share through use of the same web based Apps technology.