In a recent interview with the Financial Times Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said “Uber is a very well-established brand all over the world. For me, it’s not so much about competing against Uber.”
“We have already launched in Thika and plans are underway to launch in Mombasa and the rest of East Africa. Our focus in the market is not to initiate price wars with Uber because this market is big enough for everybody.”
Collymore said these as he announced a new Little move to introduce tuktuks and boda-boda rides in their ride-hailing service, following their move to capture the feature-phone market with the use of USSD to hail rides.
Little also aims to introduce its service in other towns and cities across Kenya before a planned expansion beyond the Kenyan borders to other East African countries. Bob also wants to cultivate a service with (even greater) brand loyalty for Safaricom, just as it is with its MPesa service as well as kill the thought that Safaricom “overwhelms” smaller companies it works with. (Safaricom worked with Craft Silicon, a start-up behind the Little app.) “We’ll probably make no money out of Little,” he said.
Uber launched early last year (2015) in Nairobi while Little joined the field in July 2016. Little’s entry triggered a 35% price-slashing move by Uber.
But then, only companies with enough financial clout can say this. Safaricom is one, being the largest company in Kenya by shares. Little has a big enough brother to make such bold claims. Uber too, is another giant. It basically is the leading taxi-hailing app in the world (except China and a select few markets). I do not imagine a new player (such as the new-born Taxi Chap Chap) that wouldn’t have to do this as well as surge prices in order to break even as soon as possible, which almost always has them failing.