The Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi has parked its operations in South Africa, closing its doors exactly a year after launching in the country.
The firm had hoped to challenge established ride-hailing firms Uber and Bolt with its proposition of making mobility accessible to anyone – affordably, safely, and efficiently. The group had hoped to use South Africa as a launch point into the rest of the continent.
The company launched in Gqeberha in March 2021, with further launches in Cape Town, in May, and in Gauteng in August of the same year. The group told BusinessTech in October last year, that it had in excess of 15,000 drivers per city in which it operated.
“We have made the difficult decision to end our operation in South Africa from April 8. Our aim has been to ensure a smooth transition for all and would like to take this opportunity to thank our employees, drivers, riders and partners for the kindness and support shown to Didi,” a Didi official told TechCrunch late last week.
“We have re-evaluated where we can make the most positive impact in the short-term and are focusing on developing even deeper capabilities in other existing markets.”
The closure of Didi comes amid continued strikes in recent weeks within the transport sector.
Drivers who contract with Uber Technologies, Bolt Technology, and other ride-hailing services in South Africa embarked on a strike to protest against record-high petrol prices and put pressure on the government to pass industry regulations to protect their rights, Bloomberg reported in March.
While the drivers complained that they were no longer making money, Uber said it has increased the price of its rides to help offset their costs.
“Our goal is to maintain a holistic view on inflationary pressures to ensure that the platform remains economically viable for drivers,” Uber’s head of mobility operations for sub-Saharan Africa, Kagiso Khaole, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “With this in mind, we have increased prices.”
Bolt said that it increased its fares by as much as 20% this month, and it sought to balance drivers’ needs with the affordability of its services for passengers.