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Uber: More than just moving people but also driving impact

Written by: Anazi Zote Piper

Uber celebrates 10 years of transformative service in South Africa after revolutionizing the way people move. 

Since its launch, Uber has provided millions of South Africans with safe, reliable and convenient travel options. Kagiso Khaole, General Manager, Uber Sub-Saharan Africa described how Uber initially started as a product and service that was ring fenced for a certain group of people but now its nearing 30+ cities across the country and servicing 80% of the urban population in South Africa. 

 “We have been looking at how do we navigate this landscape and how we can reimagine what this platform can be for South Africans,” said Kagiso Khaole, General Manager, Uber Sub-Saharan Africa.  

10 years of service and job creation  

Over the past ten years, Uber has not only reshaped urban mobility but has also contributed significantly to the local economy. Through partnerships with drivers and the support of communities across the country, Uber has created thousands of entrepreneurial opportunities, empowering individuals to become their own bosses and improve their livelihoods. Nakampe Molewa, General manager, Uber Eats recalls the moment Uber submerged itself in the township economy and partnered with the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.  

“We reached out to them and they said to us ‘look we have to create jobs for youth in the townships and we are looking at you guys who have a technology solution to do that’…we were like ‘great!’. We are looking at driving businesses in the townships. So we are going to develop these township markets and we are going to invest R200 million over the next 3 years,” said Molewa. 

Zero emissions, zero noise 

In addition to fostering economic growth, Uber has also played a crucial role in reducing congestion and emissions, making African cities more sustainable and livable. By offering a range of travel options, from ride-hailing to food delivery, Uber has become a trusted and versatile platform for millions. It’s already begun its work in Kenya where it has launched electric bikes for its fleet of delivery motorbikes.  

“Uber will become a zero emissions platform,” said Khaole. 

 Next in line is South Africa, where they will launch a fleet of electric vehicles with Valternative as a key partner to unlock this vision. Plans to launch in Cape Town, South Africa start as early as end November 2023. The first quarter of 2024 will see them roll out the second phase of electric fleets in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Commitment to safety 

The company remains committed to safety, continuously investing in technology and processes to ensure the well-being of both riders and drivers. With innovations like the in-app safety toolkit and 24/7 support, Uber strives to provide a secure and reliable transportation experience. 

“It starts building out a culture where we become a lot more conscious about what we do outside and inside the vehicle. And really hope that this makes a big dent on public safety and safety on the roads,” said Khaole.  

 Another feature to look out for seeks to protect cyclists. Since the proliferation of cycle lanes and cyclists, Uber has seen the need to alert its drivers and passengers with the new bike lane alerts. 

“There’s a phenomenon that happens in a lot of cycling countries and cities that is called dooring which is the unfortunate incident when somebody opens the door and the cyclist runs into it,” said Khaole. 

As Uber looks back on a decade of success in Africa, it also looks forward to the future, committed to further enhancing the mobility landscape and continuing its positive impact on communities across the nation. With a decade of achievements as a foundation, the next chapter promises even greater strides towards a more connected, accessible, and sustainable Africa. 

About the author

Anazi Zote
Mobility Content & Stakeholder Manager
Anazi Zote is a multifaceted woman with a passion for creativity and innovation. With her diverse skill set encompassing creatives arts, technology, and entrepreneurship, she continuously pushes boundaries and explores new frontiers. She is known for their unique perspective and out-of-the-box thinking and strives to inspire and challenge conventional norms.
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