US ride-hailing company, Uber, is set to face off in stiff competition with Gokada, as it announces a plan to help Nigeria (particularly Lagos) to solve its traffic issue through the launch of boat service. This is coming weeks after Gokada announced its entry into the boat market.
The waterways business has largely been traditional, with few enterprises operating in the market. However, it got a boost when Gokada disclosed it is starting a luxury yacht business earlier this month. Now, Uber is seeking to compete for market share. Uber first began operation in Nigeria in 2014 when it disrupted the taxi industry.
Nigeria is one of the biggest markets for Uber in Sub-Saharan African. But while the company has been largely reluctant to expand in other West African markets, it has continued to prefer Lagos for its expansion moves.
Where we see a problem they see growth: Africa’s poor record of car ownership, deplorable roads, and inefficient mass transportation systems has made waterways business sacrosanct. This is one of the factors that have influenced the companies to set sight on waterways transportation.
The new disruption will enable Lagosians to bypass road traffic, which is one of the major challenges facing both residents and businesses operating in the state. Bad traffic has caused companies like NASCON Allied Industries Plc and Honeywell Flourmills to relocate to other cities. Dangote Group was also reported to have stated that loses of N2 billion monthly due to traffic.
What you need to know: While the boat service is not meant for the heavy lifting of companies’ products, it will help companies record low late arrival of employees; but mainly within the radius of operation. Traffic in Lagos is mostly recorded during rush hour periods and close of business.
Uber is already in talks with State regulators, and this business drive, coupled with Gokada’s service, is expected to be a welcome development for the Lagos State Government. Imagine a viable solution for transporting the city’s 20 million people. The market entry of both companies is coming at a time the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu is weighing measures to curb the menace.
Uber is also discussing with a bus firm. This is in line with the company’s global push to develop services that work alongside public transit systems. The multiple discussion is still in its early stage.
There’s no date as to when the boat service will begin operation in Lagos. Lagos is close to Uber’s heart. Little wonder the company’s Chief Business Officer, Brooks Entwistle, described it as “one of the great growth opportunity cities in the world.”
Uber Boat is already operating in the Indian city of Mumbai. Other areas being tipped for the Boat service are Abidjan and Dakar in Ivory Coast and Senegal, respectively.
With Goboat being the first mover in the boat-hailing market, the company might not have control over the market price just yet. This is because Uber is likely to penetrate the boat-hailing market with a competing price to gain market share. This will be the deciding factor for customers since both are offering comfortable and safer alternatives to the traditional boat.
Uber currently competes with Bolt (formerly Taxify) in the car-hailing business, where the US company leads the market.