Easy Taxi opts out of Kenya, Africa after common investor leans towards rival Uber


Apart from exiting Africa, Easy Taxi has also exited Asia due to a fierce rivalry with Uber. PHOTO | FILE

Online cab operator Easy Taxi has opted out of the Kenyan market following a decision by one of its investors, American firm Goldman Sachs, to direct all its investments towards Uber.

The two rival taxi firms have Goldman Sachs as a common investor. Goldman Sachs apparently dropped Easy Taxi because it was competing with Uber, which is more profitable and has grip of the African market.

“It was a strategic decision, though we were seeing double-digit growth as Easy Taxi, our investors prefer to have the strongest competitor in the market operate,” said an officer of Easy Taxi who requested anonymity.

Easy Taxi will cease operations in Kenya and Africa by the end of this month. Its more than 2,000 drivers have been acquired by Little Cabs, a new entrant. They will be rebranded by June 1.

Easy Taxi had a presence in Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa.

Its more than 20 employees will also be acquired by Little Cabs. Since entry into Kenya two years ago, Easy Taxi has conducted 150,000 rides.  Uber launched in the market last year.

READ: Nairobi taxi drivers launch own battle against Uber

On Thursday the company was in the final stages of closure, a statement by Easy Taxi marketing director Maureen Chege said, “all Easy Taxi e-mail have been deactivated for the winding down process.”

The Easy Taxi application for booking has been down for more than a week, a tweet by Angela Wachuka, a user said, “@EasyTaxiKE Aware that your app is not responsive? Called about it 4 times and no assistance so far...1:46 PM - 19 Apr 2016.”

“@EasyTaxiKE it’s been unresponsive for a week… — Angela Wachuka (@SisterKilljoy) April 19, 2016,” said Easy Taxi in a reply.

Apart from exiting Africa, Easy Taxi has also exited Asia due to a fierce rivalry with Uber. Easy Taxi covers 420 cities worldwide, in Africa and the Middle East. It will concentrate on its Latin American operations where it has a strength.

It began operations in Brazil, through the African Internet Group (AIG), in which Goldman Sachs is a lead investor. 

The investment firm pumped Sh24.6 billion into AIG Easy Taxi’s operator earlier this year and more than Sh190 billion in Uber early 2015.

Despite the withdrawal of Easy Taxi from Africa, the AIG is doing well locally because of its e-commerce business that cuts across hotel bookings, online shopping sites and taxi business.

AIG also gained backing from Orange Group which acquired Sh8.6 billion equity interest in the e-commerce firm, joining longstanding investors MTN Group, Millicom and Rocket Internet.