Uber targets smaller South African cities

Internet ride-sharing service Uber is exploring expansion out of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban into smaller South African cities.

This is according to Uber head of sub-Saharan Africa Alon Lits.

Uber launched in South Africa in 2013, but to date the service is not available in cities such as Bloemfontein or Port Elizabeth.

“So, we do remain focused on our core market,” Lits told Fin24.

“That being said, as a company we say internally that we want to be in every city globally with a population of more than 200,000 people.

“So, if you think about that and the composition that South Africa has, there’s definitely opportunity beyond our core market and we are exploring that,” Lits added.

According to census data from 2011, the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City metropolitan areas each respectively have populations of 1 152 115 and 755 200.

Meanwhile, Mangaung in the Free State has a population of 747,431.

African expansion

Growth for Uber has been strong in South Africa as the company notched up 2 million rides locally in the first half of this year.

But Uber’s Lits is also looking north.

The company already operates in Kenya’s Nairobi and Nigeria’s Lagos.

Lagos, for example, has an estimated population of 20 million – five times larger than that of Johannesburg.

Bloomberg also reported this week that Uber is looking to sign a deal with car-maker Kia in Nigeria to help make vehicles more affordable for partner-drivers in that country.

“There’s a huge market opportunity there,” Lits told Fin24.

However, at this stage Lits said there are no plans to expand into other African countries although the company is eyeing opportunities.

“I think that there are a number of really larger opportunities across the continent,” Lits told Fin24.


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Uber targets smaller South African cities