Ride-hailing services are really spreading globally especially in Africa where the trend is firming stronger and stronger. You know, I’ve noticed with interest how that there seems to be so much activity in terms of the rolling out of tech innovations locally. Not too long ago I was talking about a local cryptocurrency, Zimbocash. More recently I talked about and reviewed Sasai, a chat and payments app for the African market (with special focus on Zimbabwe). Well, end of this month ride-hailing service, inDriver, is going to be launched in Zimbabwe. South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are some of the other African countries inDriver already operates in. Already you must have heard about Hwindi and Toda and Vaya which are all ride-hailing services functioning locally. So let’s talk about inDriver, what it’s about and what’s in the pipeline.

What’s inDriver?

This is a ride-hailing service headquartered in New York, USA and is available in India plus at least 200 cities in 25 countries. It was kick-started 7 years ago with USD15 million in seed capital. To date is has at least 26 million users spread out across the world. The unique thing about inDriver is that fares aren’t charged based on time or mileage. On the app you simply enter in your route then you set the fare and choose the driver. Essentially you can negotiate with drivers on fares thus saving as much as 30% on your rides. Once you enter the parameters for your ride interested drivers will accept your request. Then you’ll have the power to decide which driver you want to settle for. That choice can be guided by factors such as striking the best deal, arrival time, driver’s ratings, number of successfully completed trips or even preferred car model. By the ‘Share the ride’ option you can share the driver’s details and real-time location of the car with family and friends. There’s also a comments section when placing a ride request where you can enter details such as ‘travelling with a baby’ or ‘making extra stops along the way’.

All’s Set For Local Launch This Month End

So in the meanwhile inDriver have been recruiting local drivers towards that end. The Marketing Director for inDriver, Egor Fedorov, highlighted that they want both drivers and passengers to determine fair and favourable fares for each respective route. He also emphasised on their unique value proposition which is centred on making fare determination an independent and direct affair between drivers and passengers. This is where the game-changing aspect is because all other ride-hailing services don’t have that operating framework. The Marketing Director also pointed out that their main thrust is to give back the power of setting prices into the hands of the drivers and passengers.

Some Interesting Implications

Already we know that fuel is a huge challenge in Zimbabwe. Frankly, the ZUPCO initiative has been a huge relief for some of the commuting public because where someone would have paid, for instance, RTGS$3 they are now paying RTGS$0.50. Ride-hailing service are something that can be a game-changer if people quickly warm-up to the concept. I remember when Vaya started out locally there was much hype and even the fares were somewhat reasonable. However, over time it seems they are now not that affordable which is one of the reasons why the service hasn’t really taken off. That aspect is where inDriver can be a huge hit with prospective customers because there’s an opportunity to negotiate a fare that considers factors on both sides. So if inDriver is properly rolled out locally it can really shake up the landscape. Of course there are other factors that can get in the way such as people relative resistance to adopting online-based transactions, power outages and high data prices.

Just next door in SA ride-hailing services are mainstream. I guess locally people are still sceptical about the idea of getting a ride from a complete stranger but if this has worked in other countries surely it can also work in ours. After all, getting rides from strangers has always been a major part of our existence – only that tech hasn’t been involved in the process. Overall, I’m excited by such developments because they’re setting us up for an inevitable digital future. Despite all the chaos and pain being experienced by many people locally, the prospects of the future look really bright and exciting.