Big gains for Uber in SA

The company has facilitated more than 2m rides in South Africa in the first half of 2015.

Transport network company Uber has enjoyed explosive growth in the past year in South Africa, with local users of its application logging more than 2m trips in the first six months of 2015.

That compares to a total of 1m trips taken in the whole of 2014, sub-Saharan African GM for Uber Alon Lits said on Wednesday. Most of the growth has come from Johannesburg and Cape Town, with Durban lagging because of a moratorium on new licences for drivers in the city.

“This growth is only the beginning and we are expecting big things for the rest of the year,” Lits said.

Growth in Johannesburg and Cape Town in the first 12 months of operation far exceeds growth experienced in San Francisco, London and Paris in those cities’ first year, Lits said. The company claims to have created more than 2 000 jobs in South Africa.

At a media briefing on Wednesday, Lits provided insight into how South Africans use Uber.

He said average waiting times for a car have come down significantly in the past year. Last year, users of the app would typically wait at least 10 minutes for a ride.

The average time to wait for a driver is now 4,2 minutes in Johannesburg, 4,6 minutes in Durban and 3,5 minutes in Cape Town. This compares favourably to 2,6 minutes in San Francisco, 2,7 in New York City and 5,4 in Milan in Italy, Lits said.

Uber’s entry into the South African market hasn’t been without complications, though. In Cape Town and Durban, in particular, the service has encountered bureaucratic obstacles.

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