Bolt has more than 60% of the ride space, the biggest question is why

In Nigeria, the most populous sub-Saharan African country, there are many apps for taxi-hailing services. Bolt (formerly known as Taxify) and Uber are the two most popular platforms, mainly because of visibility and ride volume.
Both platforms have a certain history of expansion, battle, victory and defeat. For now, Bolt has more than 60% market share in the passenger car market. This may be due to multiple reasons.
First of all, let me provide some background knowledge: When chatting with Comrade Ebrahim Ayoade, Chairman of the National Federation of Application-based Professional Workers (NUPABW), I revealed that there are approximately 20,000 Bolt drivers in the country. Uber has about 10,000 drivers. That is a ratio of 2:1. This means that Bolt has approximately 66% of driver resources in the country.
You might argue that drivers are usually free to join any platform for car-hailing services, and the number of people on both sides is not composed of different people. However, this revelation shows that one out of every two drivers runs exclusively on the Bolt application.
The essence of my exam is the possible cause of this situation. Here are some of my findings:
Although Uber pioneered the African market (and even the global ride-hailing business), Bolt was able to develop rapidly, especially in the EMEA region, to reverse this trend.
The Estonian company’s expansion strategy requires them not only to enter Uber’s major cities in Africa, but also to smaller cities that Uber cannot reach.
The situation is similar across Africa. In Tanzania, Uber only operates in Dar es Salaam, its largest city and administrative capital, while Taxify operates in its capital Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, and Mwanza, a tourist hotbed on the shore of Lake Victoria.
In South Africa, Uber and Bolt both operate in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. But Bolt also operates in Polokwane.
If in addition to affordability, there is any factor affecting sales in sub-Saharan Africa and other market segments, it is accessibility. People need to use platforms that can be accessed at any time. This also means Bolt can provide drivers where Uber doesn’t.
Initially, both platforms used different strategies to compete for market share. Uber and Bolt provide systems to ensure customer satisfaction and safety. As an American company, Uber enters the market in a similar way to other cities.
This makes the customer feel comfortable. The driver is not, but they have no choice. In any case, Uber attracted more customers.
According to Comrade Ayoade, Uber will always update its T&C, and every update will make it difficult for drivers to get rid of anything. In fact, many of these drivers lost access due to these rules and never returned.
Perhaps seeing this as a market opportunity, Bolt introduced a structure that provides drivers with a less troublesome option. By then, it was ready, starting with a group of disgruntled former Uber drivers.
“Taxify is unique because it makes it easy for both drivers and riders to register as a partner. There is no problem at all. Unlike Uber’s policy, this makes us difficult during the registration process.”
Some of these include a set of security features in both applications, which make Bolt drivers more likely to influence charges than on Uber. Technext wrote a report two years ago that involved drivers using fake GPS travel apps to illegally increase the fares of local drivers.
Another important factor is the commission cost of the two platforms. It is said that Uber charges 25% of the platform commission, while Taxify charges 15%. The increase in fees means that Uber has greater flexibility to provide its customers with better bonus offers.
Drivers overwhelmed the Bolt platform: many people have similar situations on Uber, and many more are absent. Similarly, drivers who use these two platforms are more willing to choose drivers on Taxify because of their flexibility and higher revenue. As a result, users realize that the chance of riding Bolt is higher (especially during peak hours). Users start to have two applications at the same time. Then they instinctively went to Bolt first.
Both Uber and Bolt offer diversified products in the market. Uber introduced Uber buses in Egypt and planned for Lagos. It also cooperated with the Lagos State Government to initiate Uber delivery in Nairobi and provide Uber boat services.
For its part, Bolt has introduced tricycle-hailing services to its users in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state. This is in addition to its vertical platform for rides and delivery.
The challenge for Uber’s boat service is that it serves a small number of commuters in Lagos. For most commuters, a location on a designated route takes up very little space. Then, the cost exceeds many averages. So far, the system has not been profitable for local players. When Uber introduces better but more expensive options, this is a no-go for the public.
In Africa, the logistics industry is also facing the same problem. Unless you have a large interstate and interstate organization that can absorb costs and provide you with a wide range of profitability, you are still toasting. I discussed this in detail in the previous article.
My view is that Uber has entered a vertical market, accessible to a small number of people who can afford it. On the other hand, the tricycle business is also affordable for most people, but it is easier for users to choose a rider than to use the app. Therefore, the game boils down to the share of each ride sector.
Uber has gone through difficult times. In September 2019 (before COVID), the company laid off a total of 435 employees to increase profits. This represents 8% of the employees operating the company’s engineering and product teams.
In May of this year, it laid off another 3,700 employees and permanently closed about 180 driver centers worldwide. During the same period, its West Africa office also witnessed a large flow of people.
On the other hand, there are no reports of Bolt layoffs. Information from internal sources indicates that the company is self-sufficient and operates without the support of the Estonian parent company.
Finally, Bolt’s winning strategy can be summarized in one sentence: “Innovate for the grassroots people.”
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David is a technical writer and digital communications strategist. He is a keen observer of thematic developments in global science and technology. He follows the news, gets detailed information, reads carefully and points out obvious but not obvious content. is a portal site for news, reviews and insightful analysis in the Nigerian technology sector.
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Post time: Aug-14-2020