No more speculating, Uber is coming to Africa with a South African play. According to a press release by the company, secret Ubers were spotted across Johannesburg, marking the company’s entry into Africa and its fifth continent.
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Uber is a US$50-million San Francisco-based company which makes a mobile application that connects passengers with drivers of luxury vehicles for hire. At its core, the company is an on-demand private driver. Users of the service can request a ride at any time using the service’s iPhone and Android apps or from its mobi site. With your credit card registered on the service, the car picks you up and the trip is tracked from the moment you get in ’til you get off.
We first broke the news just over a month ago when we spotted a LinkedIn job post by the company, the posts suggested that Uber would soon launch in two of South Africa major cities: Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The company has seen great success across with world in four other continents, North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Currently operational in more than 30 cities around the world, Uber recently added normal taxis to its signature luxury cars such as: Lincoln Town Cars, Cadillac Escalades, BMW 7 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S550 sedans.
I have been a fan of Uber since its Paris launch at the LeWeb conference where journalists got complimentary rides from Uber to mark its entry into Europe and two years ago the company’s CEO Travis Kalanick told me he would bring the service to Africa if the right opportunity arose. It seems it has indeed.
To mark its entry in to the continent the company enlisted the help of South African football legend and African Cup of Nations winner Mark Fish who got Africa’s first Uber from Johannesburg’s Sandton region to a meeting.
According to Uber, Johannesburg was chosen as a launch city because it’s the country’s biggest metropole and is plagued with traffic issues.
The company hopes to bring “safe, reliable transportation option where they can travel in comfort and style. No more waiting after a night out for a safe ride home, and no more trusting your car’s security with parking attendants on side streets”.
Johannesburg residents are able to order Ubers currently though availability is pretty limited as the service is still in its “secret testing phase” and an Uber ride will cost you a minimum of R85 (approximately US$8.59).
Sorry Cape Town no Ubers yet.