Taxify, a European-based rival to Uber and the leading app-based taxi-hailing platform in Africa, expects to grow its African business ten-fold over the next two years while it works to dethrone Uber in Europe, its chief executive told Reuters.
Markus Villig said his firm, which has 15 million customers and half a million drivers on its platform in more than 25 countries, was on track for its drivers to rake a combined 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) from rides this year.
The Estonian firm is looking to add more services and more countries in 2019, he said during this week’s Web Summit conference in Lisbon, without disclosing details. Taxify opened in Lisbon earlier this year.
“We see massive potential in Africa to grow at least ten times in the next two years,” Villig said. “We grew our number of rides ten times in 2017 and will be one of the fastest growing companies in the industry this year as well.”
In May, Taxify secured $175 million in funding from a group led by German automaker Daimler to help its battle against Uber.
As for Europe, where Taxify has sought to capitalise on mounting driver resistance to Uber over pay and other issues to get into new markets, including some abandoned by Uber such as Slovakia and Hungary, Villig is aiming to overtake Uber in both the number of users and rides.
“When you look at other regions in the world you have a local champion win in that place. We want to be that leader in Europe, that’s our focus,” he said.
San Francisco-based Uber is active in more than 80 countries and is the market leader in Europe. It takes around a 25-percent cut of fares from drivers using its app.
Taxify typically charges a 15 percent commission, arguing happier drivers provide a better service.
The company has been working with European regulators to try to amend strict public transport laws and rules, saying consumers benefit from the flexibility and competition brought by taxi-hailing platforms.
To increase flexibility, Taxify is working on different solutions for different types of trips, such as using smaller vehicles for city centres.
An attempt to enter the highly competitive London market ground to a halt last year when transport regulators there denied it a licence to operate. But Villig said the application was “in progress, and we’re working with Transport for London to show that we’re best-in-breed”.
Australia is seeking to join China, UK and Europe in the race to increase business footprints in Africa.
The country’s new position is aided by a new look foreign policy that emphasises partnerships with mutual benefits.
Australia recently held an Africa Week in Perth, where it announced that it will push for mining, trade, education and cultural exchanges and technological advancement programmes in the coming years.
With the USA, UK, China and India all making huge financial offers for projects, Australia is touting joint ventures.
To begin with, it intends to share its technology with African countries that have mineral resources.
The mining sector, it is argued, holds the key for important technological developments; for instance renewable energy, battery storage and communication technologies all rely on a robust mining sector to provide the raw materials.
“We are hoping to create greater economic and social opportunities for African countries, and the people living in them.
These opportunities can be made easier and more accessible through the increased access to technology that the world is creating,” said Western Australia’s mineral minister Bill Johnson.
Source: East African News
In 138 BC China took its first step towards global connectivity with the establishment of the historical Silk Road. Zhang Qian was sent by Emperor Wudi to Central Asia to establish trade relationships. His historic missions enabled China to make contact with the outposts of Hellenic civilisation established by Alexander the Great.
These efforts enabled Emperor’s Han dynasty to develop political and trade relationships with Central Asian countries. New ideas came to China, along with new plants like grapes and alfalfa and superior breeds of horses.
Centuries later, China is building a very different, very modern version of that route. The Belt and Road Initiative consists of two complementary, concurrent plans. One is an overland route connecting Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia to China. The second is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aims to connect China, South East and South Asia with Africa.
The Belt and Road Initiative will connect at least 65 countries, most of them developing economies. The routes will cover 63% of the world’s population and 29% of global GDP.
Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his commitment to the project during the 10th BRICS Summit held in South Africa in late July 2018. He said it would “create new opportunities of social and economic development for participating countries.”
On the face of it, the Belt and Road Initiative looks set to change a number of economic, social and strategic landscapes. But it’s essential that whatever the project produces is perceived as benefiting everyone involved – China as well as the country’s affected.
Some projects which are already underway, particularly in Africa, offer insights into how the initiative might unfold and what its benefits and pitfalls could be. These projects also suggest that China has learned from previous infrastructure investments on the continent some decades ago.
Already connecting Africa
The African leg of the Belt and Road Initiative is work in progress. China says it will hold ongoing discussions with various countries and make decisions based on consensus as well as the economic, social and political feasibility of individual projects. Some of the countries poised to benefit most include Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Egypt.
This will cement China’s role as Africa’s main trading partner, a space it’s occupied since overtaking the US in 2009. Between 2010 and 2015, China’s foreign direct investment on the continent grew by 21.7% – and it’s still rising.
It’s important to point out that the Belt and Road Initiative will not be starting entirely from scratch. China has already provided significant help in improving connectivity and developing infrastructure in countries set to benefit from the initiative.
For example, China supported the Addis Ababa–Djibouti Railway. It’s the first transboundary and longest electrified railway line in Africa. The Export-Import Bank of China provided commercial loans that funded 85% of Ethiopia’s and 70% of Djibouti’s contributions. And the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation also owns 10% of Djibouti’s portion.
The 759 kilometre long railway, which connects landlocked Ethiopia to the maritime trade routes of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, started carrying passengers in late 2016.
China is also responsible for constructing the Madaraka Express which connects the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the capital city Nairobi, a distance of 489 km. This railway is being extended to Naivasha in Kenya’s northwest. There are plans to extend it even further so that it eventually interconnects Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and, much later, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The new railway has already reduced transportation time between Kenya’s two most important cities and, crucially for trade, reduced the cost of transporting a container between the two cities by half.
Next steps for the initiative
The success and effectiveness of the Belt and Road Initiative will depend on many factors. These include national and regional geopolitics and the long-term economic benefits of various projects in beneficiary countries.
It will also be important that non-Chinese companies, both public and private, are able to compete successfully for a significant portion of the construction pie. And China’s economic rivals should not be excluded from bidding for and winning work.
But tension is inevitable, as has already been seen in South Asia.
China is working to complete a 6 kilometre bridge over the river Padma in Bangladesh for which it is providing over USD$3 billion loan. China is investing some USD$31 billion in other projects in Bangladesh. It also plans to spend some USD$60 billion on construction of ports, railways, roads and power plants in Pakistan.
These activities and similar infrastructure developments in other countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have unsettled India, which is questioning China’s real intentions in the region.
The world will be watching as the Belt and Road Initiative unfolds – and all the players will hope the benefits outweigh the costs and are sustainable in the long term.
Asit K. Biswas, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore and Cecilia Tortajada, Senior Research Fellow, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore