A local IT firm, Craftsilicon, is set to roll out its own online taxi hailing platform seeking to take on Uber.
Craftsilicon will launch the Little Drivers service starting with 2,000 drivers — formerly of Easy Taxi — which exited the Kenyan and African markets last month after a decision by one of its investors, American firm Goldman Sachs, to direct all its investments towards Uber. Goldman Sachs was a mutual investor for both companies.
Easy Taxi entered Kenya two years ago and until its closure had conducted 150,000 rides.He said that Easy Taxi has not rebranded to Little Drivers but it is their drivers who have entered into a deal with Craft silicon.
Little Drivers cabs will have wireless Internet installed to attract customers.
“What we did is that we entered into a deal with all their (Easy Taxi’s) drivers to become Little Drivers. But the technology is our own, fully Kenyan developed,” said Craft silicon chief executive officer Kamal Budhabhatti.
The tech company is also set to assimilate more than 20 employees who were formally under Easy Taxi.
Craft silicon is a local IT firm that deals in developing software that supports banking, switching and electronic payments. The firm’s programmers developed the technology supporting the taxi hailing app.
“I believe it has a lot of potential, plus coming from Kenya, I believe our Kenyan developers have done a wonderful job,” said Mr Budhabhatti.
Kenya has seen the entry of a number of disruptive technologies, especially in the taxi industry, over the past two years. They are mainly rushing to claim a slice of the taxi business in Kenya.
Easy Taxi was the first entrant two years ago. It ventured into Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa markets before exiting last month. Uber, on the other hand, entered the Kenyan market in January 2015 and has so far managed to launch its services in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Last month, Uber announced that it had signed nearly 1,000 Kenyan drivers onto its platform and facilitated more than a million trips.
Uber has gained popularity in Kenya due to its pricing model that offers a standard cost per kilometre, charging relatively lower fares than traditional taxi operators.
Little Drivers, however, is set to offer stiff competition to the US tech firm if Mr Budhabhatti’s assertions are anything to go by.
In mid-January, Mondo Ride, another taxi-hailing app which offers a menu for both regular taxis and boda bodas, launched its services in Kenya.
The app, which has Romanian roots, chose Nairobi as its first African destination and has so far registered 600 taxis. Other platforms in Kenya include Pewin and Maramoja.
The apps have proven popular with Nairobi residents as they have a predictable model of charging fares unlike regular cab drivers who quote their prices based on arbitrary spot negotiations with clients.