American taxi-hailing company Uber has launched services in Lagos - connecting drivers with riders through its smart phone app. It's hoping Nigeria could be a growing market by offering a reliable and safer alternative for commuters. Ciara Lee reports.
Getting around in Nigeria's bustling city of Lagos can be a nightmare for commuters. Buses and rickshaws dominate the streets, and safety is a concern. Nigeria has one of the highest kidnapping rates - getting in the wrong cab could end up costing a lot more than the agreed fare. Step in Sillicon Valley's taxi app Uber. Customers are able to track their driver's location on their phones. Launching in Nigeria, it's promising to make travel easier and safer. David Aharia is an Uber driver. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID AHARIA, UBER TAXI DRIVER, SAYING: "This is a work I love doing because I don't look for customers, it's customer that look for you, so it's not a case that you go out in the morning, you don't have a job to do, with this job I'm always busy s." Aharia may do it for job satisfaction, but for Uber, the move could prove lucrative. Ebi Atawodi is in charge of Uber Lagos. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EBI ATAWODI, GENERAL MANAGER, UBER LAGOS, SAYING: "Lagos is, its the New York of Africa, its 21 million people, second contributor to the biggest, one of the biggest GDPs on the continent as a state not even a country." Uber operates in around 60 countries and is worth an estimated 40 billion US dollars. But it faces competition in Sub-Saharan Africa from Easy Taxi. The Brazilian start-up is based on a similar concept and has already expanded in the region. Uber has come under criticism over safety concerns regarding driver backgrounds and also privacy issues. But it's showing little sign of slowing down expansion. It's announced plans to average more than a million rides a day in India over the next 9 months. It will invest $1 billion there, matching its investments in China.