Kenya’s largest telecommunications firm Safaricom has partnered with Craftsilicon, one of the top local IT companies, in the launch of an online taxi-hailing app that is expected to take on American rival Uber.
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore Thursday told Reuters News that Safaricom would partner with Littlecabs, which earlier this week told the Business Daily that it was preparing to launch an app to rival Uber.
Littlecabs has said that it will be offering cheaper rates than Uber, but has so far not revealed the prices.
Safaricom says it plans to unveil the service in less than one month. Details of the partnership between Safaricom and Craftsilicon are not yet clear.
Both companies had not yet responded to our queries on the revenue sharing arrangement or management of Littlecabs by the time of going to press.
Craftsilicon says it has already developed the Android application that is currently available for download in Google Play store.
Safaricom is set to help the firm to further upgrade the app besides offering network connectivity, wireless Internet to Littlecabs taxis and its mobile money platform (M-Pesa) as a channel of payment.
The two firms are set to roll-out the Little Drivers service starting with 2,000 drivers — formerly of Easy Taxi — which exited the Kenyan and African markets last month after a decision by one of its investors, American firm Goldman Sachs, to direct all its investments towards Uber. Littlecabs is also set to absorb more than 20 employees who were formally under Easy Taxi.
“What we did is that we entered into a deal with all their (Easy Taxi’s) drivers to become Little Drivers. But the technology is our own, fully Kenyan developed,” said Craftsilicon chief executive officer Kamal Budhabhatti in an interview with the Business Daily earlier in the week.
Craftsilicon is a local IT firm that deals in developing software that supports banking, switching and electronic payments. The firm’s programmers developed the technology supporting the taxi hailing app.
Safaricom, whose core business is voice, text and data, has chosen the software firm as a partner in the e-hailing business.
The two firms are set to compete with Uber which entered the Kenyan market in January 2015 and have so far managed to launch its service in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Last month Uber announced that it has signed nearly 1,000 Kenyan drivers onto its platform and facilitated more than a million trips over the platform.
Uber has gained popularity in Kenya due to its pricing model that offers a standard cost per kilometre, charging relatively lower fares compared to traditional taxi operators and Littlecabs is set to offer stiff competition to the US tech firm if Mr Budhabhatti’s assertions are anything to go by.
Credit: Business Daily