Afrocab, an indigenous startup online taxi service is bringing a new dimension into the Nigerian market space by allowing riders to negotiate for their taxi fare online, just same way they do at real world taxi park.
Aniedi Udo-bong, Country Manager of Afro Technology, which is introducing the Afrocab taxi app says it hopes to leverage a highly-competitive online taxi marketplace in Nigeria.
“We allow you set the price. You know how it is in Nigeria. You want to go to somewhere and you go to the first taxi man and say ‘Marina.’ He says N2000 and you say no, N1500. From there, you go to the next taxi man and another until you get your offer accepted”, Udo-bong told Technology Times today at Lagos Social Media Week.
According to him, “we allow you that experience on the phone. We use simple mathematics to gauge how much you should pay. However, if you are sure of what you want to pay, we allow you adjust to that and the offer goes out like a broadcast to all our drivers in the vicinity and say, okay this guy is here, he wants to go here and is offering N1000. Any driver that accepts the offer will come pick the customer, which is the same experience you have on the street.’’
According to him, “so, this is the local content we are bringing into the market. It is very important in what we do, that local content. African influence is something we are very passionate about.’’
According to Mr Udo-bong, Afrocab recognizes the competition in the industry but believes that Nigerian market is large enough to accommodate such competition.
According to him, “it is a tough market but like I always say, it is not about one person must lose and the other wins. You probably have a blog or a TV station, a news media or website; must other websites fall down before yours succeeds? So there is enough space for everyone to operate. But we are a brand with solution built in Africa for Africa by Africans.”
He acknowledges brands like Uber have gone way ahead but believes the local approach Afrocab is adopting will give it some edge in the bustling Nigerian market.
‘’We are thinking locally, which does not mean that our products are substandard or our approach must be below average. Uber has set a standard, you have to meet up or exceed that standard”, according to the Afrocab executive.
Udo-bong says that though there have been ups and downs since the inception of the business in the area of technology, financing and people operation, “which is normal with all startups”, but he believes that with what they have introduced into the Nigerian market, “impact would be felt in the market.”
The Afrocab MD believes that, “when you have a good product that meets minimum standard, you will be able to try and come into the market and make a niche for yourself. We are in Lagos and Lagos is a very cosmopolitan society, a lot of educated people, a lot of enlightened people. We are a brand that is also about lifestyle, what you aspire to be.”
On whether they have been able to achieve their aspiration so far, Udo-bong says ‘’we have absolutely not gotten there, there is a statement that says, aim high, if you don’t get there you land somewhere. So our vision is very practical, very realistic but in the market, they are certain things you don’t plan for, for instance the forex has gone from one Dollar to N160 to one Dollar to N400. Even if you plan for such fluctuations, sometimes you can’t prepare for that.”
According to him, “we have not gotten there yet, but I think you must have investors that believe in you to be able to make it, they will support and encourage you, that is what makes a start-up a start-up.’’
Afrocab says the minimum amount for their taxi in Lagos is N1000 saying that “we have experimented Port Harcourt and Abuja and at the moment, those cities are set at the minimum of N500 just because it is a different market.’’
Udo-bong say he expects to see more competition in the industry in the near future but will develop innovations to give Afrocab some edge and advantages that will make the taxi service remain a relevant player for a very long time.