We Use New Technology To Improve Safety Standards For Riders, Drivers — Akinwumi 

 Tope Akinwumi is the Country Manager for Uber Nigeria. Previously, he was Head of Marketplacement and Analytics at Kobo360 and Assistant Manager of Disruptive Innovation and Emerging Technology at PwC Nigeria. In this interview with our Correspondent, CHIDI UGWU, Tope speaks on the prospects ahead as he focuses on Uber’s growth and expansion throughout Nigeria. Excerpts: 

 Having operated in Nigeria for over five years, how would you describe the acceptance of Uber in the country? What level of coverage do you have in the country? In other words, does Uber cover all parts of Nigeria? 

Uber has transformed how we move across our cities as well as how we move goods from one place to another. Uber has found a good fit in Nigeria as it provides a platform for independent and flexible earnings for drivers and riders, a convenient, reliable means of mobility. Since entering the market in 2014, we have created economic opportunities for over 10,000 drivers and expanded into 12 cities across Nigeria namely Lagos, Abuja, Benin City, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Warri, Enugu, Kano etc. 

We believe that each country’s needs are unique so we take the time to understand each of the market needs so we can be responsive and adapt accordingly. Our product portfolio is reflective of this: 

Uber Go is a more affordable ride option for consumers that makes use of smaller, fuel-efficient hatchback vehicles, to boost rider demand and unlock further earning opportunities for drivers. 

Uber Package is one of the company’s most popular products available in the country. Package leverages technology to provide an affordable way for peer-to-peer deliveries. This contactless delivery provides a cost-effective, on-demand, no-contact delivery solution for individuals and small businesses. 

To help reduce costs for riders and increase demand for drivers, we launched UberX Share in Nigeria, Uber’s shared rides offering allows riders to save up to 30% of the trip fare when matched with a co-rider heading in the same direction, and where a match is not possible, they will still be able to save 5% from their ride. 

The introduction of UberX Share allows us to proudly demonstrate the power of our platform, understanding the ability to match rider destinations while delivering convenience and affordability. We are a global company that builds locally; and in Nigeria, we tapped into the local culture of car-pooling when moving around, which makes this product a great fit for the market. 

The price of petrol has suddenly hit the roof, how is this impacting your operations? 

As a global business that operates locally, and at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty with inflation peaking around the world, we continuously monitor local dynamics to see what changes can be implemented and when. 

Uber wants what’s best for drivers who operate on the Uber platform and frequently engage with them directly through roundtables, surveys, phone, and in-app channels to better understand and receive feedback on the realities they face in their businesses. Following an in-depth review of the fuel subsidy removal, Uber updated fares on the app to reflect existing economic conditions. 

We have heard cases of crimes involving taxi outfits, how safe is riding with Uber in Nigeria? 

We put safety at the heart of everything we do and always look at ways to improve safety on the platform. Not only are we passionate about helping people travel from point A to B, but we are also committed to being a leading safety innovator, using new technology to improve safety standards for all riders and drivers operating on our platform 

We have launched several industry-leading safety features over the years, including features dedicated to the Nigerian market. 

These include the in-app emergency button in partnership with Sety, which dispatches armed security to your location within minutes of an emergency. 

Other safety features include Audio Recording, RideCheck, GPS tracking, Trusted Contacts, and Safety Check-Up. 

We also adhere to strict Community Guidelines, which act as a “how-to” for both riders and drivers. 

Other outfits offering the same services have sprung up, like Bolts of this world. What has the competition been like? Are you concerned that with the coming of more ride outfits, you might lose a substantial market share? 

We know that we face significant competition across local markets. However, since we compete in many markets around the world and understand what it means to strive to remain competitive, we are able to bring in best practices leveraging our global scale and technology and apply it in the region. 

Electric Vehicles are beginning to be part of discussions in the country, are you looking at encouraging your drivers to switch to Electric Vehicles? 

Sustainability is a key priority for Uber from a global perspective and we are taking an active role to be part of the collective efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the region. To do this we are bringing our innovative technology and products to support the efforts to diversify offerings to include more hybrid & green options, reduce fossil-fueled cars, and accelerate efforts towards a multi-modal system of transport that reduces the dependence on private cars. 

We believe in a collaborative approach and are working with regulators, utility, and charging companies to create the right mix of products to accelerate the shift towards green mobility.

In SSA, we currently have electric motorcycles in Kenya, which exemplifies our journey towards clean and green mobility. 

What specific innovations should Nigerians be looking out for in Uber? Where do you see Uber as a service outfit in the next 10 years? 

The rise of ride-hailing has fundamentally reshaped the way we uncover the intricacies of our cities. Since our launch, Uber has played a pivotal role as a collaborative partner with numerous cities, elevating their mobility choices. This collaboration has not only fostered enhanced transportation alternatives but also bolstered economic vitality through the flexible earnings we provide to drivers. 

The journey ahead fills us with anticipation, particularly as we mark a decade of impactful presence in Africa this year. We remain committed to engaging with policymakers, raising the bar on safety, helping drivers grow their businesses, unlocking more economic opportunities, and improving the experience of riders through new innovations and products. 

Who is eligible for Uber driver, can you take us through the processes of becoming an Uber driver? 

Uber has in place a number of processes that drivers need to undergo before gaining access to the app. In Nigeria, the first step is to download the Uber App and submit a valid Nigerian driver’s license in addition to other regulatory driver and vehicle documents requested. 

At a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty and with inflation and fuel prices peaking around the world, flexible work on platforms like Uber is more important than ever. A recent 2022 survey highlights that 92% of drivers in Nigeria choose to use the Uber app because they value the flexibility and independence provided by using the app. 

Source: Independent News

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