Subsidy removal has reduced e-hailing demand – Bolt country manager

Country Manager, Bolt Nigeria, Yahaya Mohammed, speaks with JUSTICE OKAMGBA on some of the challenges confronting the e-hailing industry, and how the company has been tackling unethical offline practices among drivers

What is the future of e-hailing business in Nigeria?

We have got some competition, especially from other e-hailing companies but then, Nigeria is a massive market. And it is consistently growing, especially in the urban population. Hence, the demand for transportation services continues to increase. We rightly believe that the market has not reached its maturity but it has a potential to grow, despite the challenges from the surge of fuel prices. Bolt as a service is to complement the public transport system. It can cater to the demands of the growing middle class in the country.

There is a future for ride-hailing as we have seen the rise of fintech in the country, as Nigerians continue to leverage their services to make life easier. There is also an increase in smartphone penetration. The competition is there, but there is room for every player in the market.

What is your market size in the industry? Are you able to meet up with the demands of e-hailing services?

The market size is good. There has been a reduction in both demand and supply. The removal of fuel subsidy led to an increase in fuel prices. In terms of meeting up with the current demand, yes, we are meeting up with the demands.

What are some of the current issues affecting the e-hailing business?

The issues are self-evident. These are general macroeconomic issues such as foreign exchange. The scarcity of forex affects the drivers and the cost of replacing parts. For example, if you have to replace your gearbox or tire, you would need forex because we do not manufacture these parts locally. They have to be imported. With the fluctuation in foreign exchange, it means operational costs has become higher.

Some of the drivers on your platform complain about low earnings. How are you handling these complaints?

Our commission for each trip is 20 percent. So, I can safely guarantee that drivers do earn money on the platform. The talks about earnings not being sufficient are understandable given the state of the economy and the increase in fuel prices.

Do you have any initiative that you plan to roll out for the benefit of the industry? 

Yes. We do have a range of initiatives. For example, in Lagos, we have launched our economic category which has a 5 percent payback commission to drivers and ultimately makes it more affordable for riders and the drivers can gain more by increasing the number of orders due to the subsidized trips.

We also have daily and weekly campaign bonuses for drivers when a certain number of trips are achieved. Available to drivers as well has been our car branding. So, I don’t know if you have noticed. We have been branding Bolt cars in specific cities. Also, in Lagos, drivers can earn up to N74,000 a month by simply having branded cars. And it is just an initiative that would help income drivers, especially during these precarious times. And it will also really help to subsidize a lot of the costs.

Source: The Punch

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