Techjaja Podcast 012: A chat with Alon Lits, Uber’s General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa

Ubers Alon Lits podcast

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[/blockquote]Now that Uber has finally arrived in Kampala, marking it the 462 city to open its doors to the ride hailing company, most of you must be asking yourselves questions about Uber. Wait not, we caught up with Uber’s Sub-Saharan General Manager Alon Lits, for a quick Q&A podcast in under 6 minutes and we bring you answers to the most burning questions regarding their launch operations in and the K-town.  We have both a full audio podcast (forgive the audio quality) and transcript of the of podcast below.

Techjaja: What prompted you to launch in Uganda?

The huge demand for Uber even before we ever thought of setting foot here prompted us to. We enjoyed quite a number of downloads from tech savvy Ugandans wanting to use the app to book for a ride and that was quite a pull factor. We followed this initial demand up with a high level analysis on smartphone penetration etc and now we’re here.

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Techjaja:Ugandans prefer paying with cash to cards, how are you going to  address this? Should we anticipate you accepting cash or mobile money?

You have the option to pay either with cash or card at the end of the trip that is basing on one’s preference.


Techjaja:Any future prospects of going beyond Kampala?

At this stage we’re very focused on Kampala and obviously  if it proves successful, we may look to expand further.


If not successful, are you going to pullout?

We’re very confident the business will be successful here.


Techjaja:Uber has a range of specific services (UberPool, Uber X, UberMoto etc), are they all launching at once? If not, why the preference towards one (s) that are launching?

The only product we’re launching today is UberX, it is either a 4 or 6 seater sedan charged at very affordable rates. We may introduce more products over time but right now the focus is on UberX.


Techjaja: Recently you were awarded a loan from Sidian bank to help your Kenyan drivers acquire new cars, will such an extension accrue to Ugandan drivers given most cars driven on Ugandan roads are old?

Right now it doesn’t exist in Kampala but the intention is definitely overtime to strike similar partnerships here, making capital available to drivers at affordable rates thus reducing barriers to entry.

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Techjaja:There is competition to fend off like, Safe Boda among others, what value added services are in place to lure customers to your side?

We applaud the competition but at the end of the day, the product that provides consumers with the best user experience, the safest possible product is one that customers are going to use. So it’s very important that we’re always improving, looking at bringing more products to more people in cities where we operate.

Techjaja:How are you going to address security concerns since the riders & drivers barely know each other?

All our drivers go through a verification process and they’ll be screened for criminal backgrounds by interpol which lead to certification. Every Uber trip is tracked by GPS (Global Positioning System) so we know who picked you up and where they dropped you off and who the person on either side of the transaction is. In addition, you see the name, car type,licence plates and photo of the driver when you request for an Uber.You can share this information with any of your loved ones.


Techjaja: Protests against your operations are well documented, how are you going to address such upheavals here?

We have  partnered with a large number existing transport operators in Kampala since Uber is an open technology platform on how can we be one transport option in the city.


Techjaja: Will Uber transactions/fares be billed in shillings or dollars given the recent uproar in Nigeria regarding your pricing?

They’ll be billed in Ugandan Shillings.


Techjaja: Is your dedicated response team be based in Uganda?

Nope, It is not based in Uganda but it is 24/7 support so the team will respond within hours to your query.