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Group launches ride-sharing app in Abuja

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By Abraham Adekunle

Grabtaxi is an indigenous e-hailing business competing with foreign ones.

E-hailing was not always available in Nigeria. In the past, yellow taxis (popularly known as Ọkọ Ashewo in Lagos) dominated the market. They operated like public transport but with dedicated taxi parks which are also painted black and yellow. Compared to now, access to fast and affordable transportation has improved. Now, commuters do not need to get to the taxi parks before boarding a ride. Instead, the ride comes to the comfort of their homes to give them a safe and comfortable trip to their destination.

This is the future of mobility manifesting in Nigeria. In the last couple of years, the Nigerian yellow taxi market was disrupted by e-hailing services. This disruption is expected to continue as long as technology exists and improves. With the influx of e-hailing services such as Uber and Bolt (formerly known as Taxify), the foreign businesses have posed a healthy competition to taxi business, effectively reducing the latter’s value. Uber, an American-owned e-hailing service, penetrated Lagos, Nigeria in 2014, while Bolt, an Estonian transportation network company, did in 2016.

New app offers local drivers best commission on the market.

Having dominated the market for more than five years, these foreign firms are now witnessing the launch of a similar local app. An indigenous Nigerian company, E.F Network Limited, a member of E.F Group, has launched a revolutionary ride-sharing application called Gabtaxi, with the best local content and lowest commission for drivers. This launch, which took place in Abuja, is expected to compete against and overtake foreign e-hailing companies that had dominated the Nigerian market.

Chairman and CEO of E.F Group, Mr. Gideon Egbuchulam, said at a press briefing that the motivation behind the initiative was the protest he witnessed by Nigerian drivers complaining of poor treatment by foreign e-hailing companies. According to him, these drivers complained that foreign hailing companies collected more than the Nigerian drivers, giving them nothing and without even ensuring that the drivers or their cars were safe. “Most of the drivers are graduates with no other jobs and these foreign taxi companies collect from 25 to 30 percent commission for each ride,” he said.

Nigerian drivers’ ordeal spurred the creation of the app.

He mentioned that it is doubtful that these foreign ride companies pay taxes in the country or even pay what they ought to. He said that they bypass the system by using fuel stations as offices, for instance. He also expressed his discontent at the ordeal Nigerian drivers endure in the hands of foreign companies, adding that many drivers hardly go home with 30 percent of their daily earnings after deductions. Because of this, his firm resolved to create value by developing a top-notch product that would reduce Nigerian drivers’ losses and compete with any technology anywhere in the world.

With Gabtaxi, Mr. Egbuchulam said that drivers will get the same features they had been receiving from other services at barely half the commission being charged by the competition. “We have the lowest commission in the industry anywhere in the world, just about 15 percent on average,” he said. Apart from reduction in commissions, he said that there are many more incentives. One of the key selling points of the business is affordability as it had developed a business model offering services at a lower cost than some of the more established ride-hailing companies.

A number of features and policies were implemented to ensure safety.

Egbuchulam emphasized that the firm is taking safety seriously. He revealed that arrangements were in place between Gabtaxi, security agencies and the FRSC to heighten the safety, selection of record of vehicles and customer service hotlines. The mobile app has a fluid easy-to-navigate user interface that provides a seamless user experience. The incentive system is available for drivers with higher rankings – those who consistently receive high ratings from passengers and provide a high-level service will be eligible for bonuses and other rewards.

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