American e-cab company Uber has announced plans to expand into five additional towns in Kenya.
These are Kisumu, Eldoret, Naivasha, Elementaita, and Gilgil.
According to a statement from Uber, the development has been fueled by increased competition from other e-cab companies.
Uber, for instance, has only been available in Nairobi, Mombasa and Thika. It also entered the Nakuru market in 2021, a town that has since been elevated to city status.
The competition, including Little Cabs and Bolt, has been present in smaller towns that Uber has not entered before.
Leisure and hospitality activities, including access to an international airport and city status has also motivated Uber to enter the Kisumu market.
The company, however, will find its rivals there, namely Little and Bolt.
Uber, whose cheapest cab service is called Chap Chap, has been credited with pushing for e-cab services in Kenya.
When it arrived in the country, it battled resistance from traditional taxi drivers. Driver compensation has also been an issue, although the company attempted to address the concerns through multiple meetings with e-taxi driver reps and unions.
At one time, Uber launched a product that could allow drivers to access low-cost vehicles through partnerships with local lenders. The program has since been halted.
While this is great for Uber, it does not come close to Bolt, which offers its services in 16 towns in the country, including Embu, Kakamega, Malindi and Nanyuki.
“We have soft-launched the cities and we will be going as the product becomes more developed. We see the potential in these cities and are confident that they will grow and become very reliable for us,” said Uber head of East Africa, Imran Manji.
“Rates will depend on cities. Each city will be managed separately because the cost of living and affordability is different. Not all products available in Nairobi will be found in those cities. For example, you may find Uber X (premium option) in one city and not in another city. It will also depend on vehicles the drivers have,” adds Mr Manji.