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Shipping & Logistics

Little Ride set to give Uber a run for its money in Uganda

Craft Silicon founder Kamal Budhabhatti. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Craft Silicon founder Kamal Budhabhatti. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Safaricom-backed online taxi-hailing app Little Ride is set to launch its services in Uganda this month, marking its maiden foray outside Kenya.

Little, developed by technology firm Craft Silicon, says its Uganda expansion plans earlier announced in 2016 had been delayed until this year to enable it firm up its Kenyan operations.

“We had a plan to launch (in Kampala) last year. But we felt that we must strengthen our position in our home ground before we go out,” Kamal Budhabhatti, Craft Silicon founder, told the Business Daily in a telephone interview.

“In Kampala, by mid of May, we would be up,” he added. As at October last year, the company had on its app about 5,000 drivers, who would at the time clock in over 13,000 rides during peak periods at the weekends.

The firm is also planning to expand into Nigeria, a populous nation it has set sights on since 2016.

“Nigeria, it’s in (our) plan. But I would also be able to tell you (the launch date) in a few weeks after we roll out Uganda,” said Mr Budhabhatti.

The foray into the two nations is expected to effectively transfer further afield the taxi price wars that Little has sparked locally among its rivals including giant American Uber and Estonian-based Taxify .

Little Ride launched in Kenya in July 2016 sparking off a price war that pitted it against Uber and Dubai-based Mondo Ride which responded to the increased competition by slashing their fares.

Uber, the San Francisco-based taxi e-hailing giant, launched its services in Kampala, Uganda in June, 2016. Uber rolled out its operations in Lagos, Nigeria in August 2014 while Taxify entered Uganda in 2017 to tap the fast growing demand for city transport services.

Mr Budhabhatti had earlier said Craft Silicon would bank on lower charges to woo passengers and gain market share in new countries, a pointer to the disruption Little’s expansion could bring.

“Nigeria is where we have our biggest continental operations as Craft Silicon and so we believe we have leverage there. The same applies for Uganda where we are also based,” Mr Budhabhatti had said. He did not indicate which telecom partners the company is looking to partner with in Nigeria and Uganda.

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