Uber is speeding up its expansion in Africa after initially launching in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. June saw launches in Dar es Salaam, Accra and Kampala, signalling Uber’s first forays into Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda, while the taxi app also launches in a third Kenyan city – Thika.
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The company is also expanding and remodelling its offerings across the rest of the continent, and will shortly be adding delivery and courier services to its bouquet. In Nigeria it has ditched UberBLACK in favor of UberSELECT.
Yet it may face more competition as well. In Kenya, Uber’s second African market, leading local mobile operator Safaricom is partnering with a local software firm to launch a rival taxi-hailing service which it says will be better for the local economy. It remains to be seen whether this new app will fare better than others that have tried to compete with the financial might of Uber.
News also from “Africa’s first unicorn”, Africa Internet Group (AIG), which is rebranding itself and all of its subsidiaries to Jumia, the e-commerce platform that is the major company in its stable. The company is also launching cars and jobs services in Kenya to take it established local firms there, having received huge amounts of funding over the last few months.
Other major firms had mixed months. WeChat, the Chinese chat app that has established a solid footprint in South Africa, closed shop in Nigeria having failed to see good uptake. Better news, however, for eBay, which made its first foray into Africa by partnering MallforAfrica to enable Africans to shop on their site for the first time. The company is building an app, with sales to begin in Nigeria, followed by Kenya and Ghana.
African companies were once again popular with investors. The most eye-catching funding round was that of coding accelerator Andela, which became the first lead investment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative established by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The US$24 million round from a number of investors is set to see the company expand further across Africa from its existing operations in Nigeria and Kenya.
There were rounds also for South African data startup DataProphet and Nigerian fintech company SpacePointe, while Egyptian tech startups are also becoming increasingly attractive. Bug-reporting app Instabug raised US$1.7 million, while e-health company SmartCare raised US$1.2 million of its own.
New funds are springing up left, right and centre to back African tech startups, including in South Africa, where 4Di Capital announced the first close of a US$16.8 million tech VC fund. Capria announced a US$100 million fund with a partial focus on African tech startups. Two acquisitions also hit the news: recently-closed M4JAM will resurface after being bought out by Informal Solutions, while Kenyan VoD startup Buni.tv was acquired by France’s TRACE TV. A good month also for Ghanaian social haircare startup Tress and Egyptian drone startup Drofie, which were accepted onto the Y Combinator and Kickstart accelerator programmes respectively.