• Memeburn
      Tech-savvy insight and analysis
    • Gearburn
      Incisive reviews for the gadget obsessed
    • Motorburn
      Because cars are gadgets
    • Jobsburn
      Digital industry jobs for the anti 9 to 5!

Q&A: Taxify reveals plans to take on Uber in Nigeria by being more ‘driver friendly’

The ride-hailing sector may remain attractive in Lagos, with 15 ride-hailing apps competing for a portion of Nigeria’s biggest city’s vast taxi market, but until now only Uber seems to have achieved some success.

Estonian ride-hailing app Taxify, which arrived in the city in November, aims to change this.

Uchenna Chukwuebuka Okafor, Taxify’s Operation Manager in Lagos told Ventureburn how the app has its eye focused on being a more driver-friendly app.

Ventureburn: What is different about Taxify in comparison to similar services?

Uchenna Chukwuebuka Okafor: We treat driver-partners better so that they can offer high quality service to customers. Our commission (that the company takes) is 15% (comparing to competitor’s 20-25%), so basically driver-partners earn significantly more with us than with other competitors.

VB: How was the decision to expand to Nigeria reached?

UCO: We launched in Lagos because of the massive potential that the city holds. We came to alter the status quo and offer a viable alternative to Lagosians. Ultimately we aim to change the way people move within the city, create jobs and transform the transportation ecosystem.

VB: How has the Nigerian market experience been?

UCO: Totally exciting so far. It’s definitely one of our successful markets and the growth rate is exceptional. The local team has been innovative and has put in tremendous hard work over the last few weeks.

Results of this are quite visible now and we have been the number one travel app for the past one week. The love Lagosians have for the Taxify app is massive and we would do everything to be better.

VB: Uber recently reduced its coverage in Lagos and slashed the cost of its services by 40% suggesting it is rolling out tough austerity measures. Are you having similar experience in Lagos?

UCO: Actually we reduced fares before they did. For us, it’s all about delivering safe, reliable and affordable rides. We want rides to move affordably and driver-partners to earn more.

VB: Many start-ups have attempted to compete with Uber in Lagos and have failed. How will you describe this success?

UCO: Well, more work still needs to be done, we are not running up against anyone. The vision we carry is huge and Markus Villig, our founder, and the global team have supported us massively.

VB: The taxi ecosystem in Lagos is still dominated by the informal players. How do you think this could change over the years?

UCO: There would definitely be a shift in the taxi ecosystem. As Lagos moves to attain mega city status, there is a need to tidy up the land transportation end. These would see more of the informal players move to embrace technology. Ride-hailing has the potential of easing up a lot of tension. One vehicle servicing the transport needs of up to 50 residents would lead to reduced traffic bottlenecks and a saner city.

VB: Do you have enough drivers in Lagos? Where are the major regions of the city that you see much traction? Any plans for outside Lagos?

UCO: Our supply is great and we are bringing onboard tens of partner-drivers daily. Regarding expansion to other cities, we are totally committed to stabilising operations in Lagos for now and will at the same time keep an eye out for viable cities to expand to.

VB: Also describe your localisation strategies in order to better relate with the local market.

UCO: Lagosians want quality rides and want to pay less. Driver-partners want to earn more, crave for efficient support on queries. These dynamics informed our strategy and it is already paying off.

VB: The current challenge is how to ensure that the drivers are happy by making good returns and that customers are satisfied. How can this be achieved in the short-term?

UCO: We are doing this right now and we hope to sustain this for a long while.

Feature image: Kārlis Dambrāns via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Author Bio

Paul Adepoju
Paul Adepoju is a media entrepreneur, published author and award-winning Nigeria-based freelance journalist. He speaks regularly at major African technology events including NigeriaCom and Nigeria eHealth Forum. More