Uber, a global taxi technology company operating worldwide, could soon pull out of Africa. This business decision might be implemented if Softbank, Uber’s newest and largest shareholder, takes over the reigns. Softbank’s vision for the company might be conflicting with that of Uber as in a statement to the Financial Times, the company expressed enthusiasm at the large investment from a consortium led by Softbank and hopes to “double down on providing its service to more people in more places around the world.” Softbank, however, is of the view that the global taxi technology company should pull out of Africa and other markets to concentrate on its core markets which include US, Europe and Australia.
According to Qartz Africa, ‘Softbank has significant stakes in some of the world’s largest ride-hailing companies including Uber rivals like India’s Ola and China’s Didi so it is perhaps unsurprising that it might want the California-based company to focus on core markets where it doesn’t compete with its other investments. However, in an email to Quartz, an Uber spokesperson insisted that the company is “very much committed” to its African operations and is “excited” about its “future growth prospects.”
After Uber’s launch in 2013, it has quickly expanded across Africa with its current top five user base in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania. Its pullout might bring great relief to competitors who have been struggling to gain user base. The euphoric feeling would extend to taxi unions as well who felt threatened by the increase in patronage of Uber over traditional taxi services in Africa.
It might be too early for competitors to have their hopes raised about the company’s withdrawal from Africa, however, it might be the right moment for competitors in Ghana such as Uru, Beautiful Feet and Taxify to pick up their game.