“It is a convenient trick to rob a person of all they have, even their own body, and then mock them for their poverty, and blame it on their nature.” – Adam Serwer
Uber launched its services in Kenya in late January 2015. They threw a party to commemorate the occasion. The launch party, in their own words, was attended by “200+ guests representing all corners of this unique city…”
Stop for a moment to think about what type of guests would fit the above description. What comes to mind?
According to Uber, “all corners of this unique city” are well represented by “hardcore bankers, socialites, tech startup jocks and, fashionistas.” While this group of guests clearly did not represent “all corners of this unique city” they did represent one group of people. The riders.
In an article titled Uber: The good, the bad, and the really, really ugly, the writer Scott Myers, outlines who Uber is good for and who they are bad for. His article states that Uber is only good for one group of people. The riders. Included in the group of who Uber is bad for, is the drivers.
Maybe this then explains why conspicuously absent from Uber Kenya’s launch party were the drivers. It’s tough to throw a launch party and then proceed to invite the individuals you are about to screw over.
As an avid Uber rider, I can confirm that Uber has been great for the riders. Before Uber, I had a cab guy. He was a fantastic guy. He was always polite and on time and his car was always clean. I was not planning on giving him up but when your cab guy is 20 minutes away, caught up in 2-hour type traffic then you’re forced to rethink your arrangements.
I took two rides with Uber today. I was prepared to pay about $3.50 and $9 for my trips. The first cost me less than $2. My second ride, which had two stops and took about 45 minutes, cost me less than $7.
It was a little too good to be true so I made a comment on the low pricing insinuating that it must be good for business. My driver confirmed that yes, it was great for the riders but not for them. Uber is lowering the prices for the riders but it is still taking 25% of the drivers cut.
When Uber launched in Kenya they did so with the exact same business model they have in the U.S. That model is built on the premise that Uber should be a part-time job not, a full-time job.
This premise works beautifully in a 24-hour economy where you have the opportunity to get three or four other jobs to cover the gaps left by low paying jobs like driving for Uber. Or where you can get low-interest rates to buy a car that meets Ubers’ requirements.
This is not the case in Kenya. For starters, Kenya is not a 24-hour economy. At least not yet. Therefore, driving for Uber is considered a full-time job. Adding to the pressures of Ubers’ predatory practices is the cost of living.
It is extremely expensive to live in Nairobi, where most of Ubers’ drivers are based. Fuel alone is $1 for 0.26 gallons and if you finance a car your subject to double-digit interest rates that are closer to 20% than they are to 10%.
Uber knows all of this. It was part of their market research. They had to factor this in when determining what the minimum fare amount should be. They know exactly what they are subjecting their drivers to.
Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter – African Proverb
Trump said what he said. What he said is not for me to attempt to correct. When it comes to identity, it ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to that counts. His words and his actions simply continue to expose the underbelly of the diseased yet superbly well-marketed beast that is the United States.
I am not here to cry victim either. I recognize that my fellow citizens and I have been complicit in the creation of the current narrative.
Communities are not built from the outside in but from the inside out. As Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a joint press conference with French president Emmanuel Macron “We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves — in our country, in our region, in our continent — on the basis of whatever support that the Western world or France or the European Union can give us,” he added. “It has not worked, and it will not work.”
The lopsided love affair with the West needs to be brought to an end. They might be giving with one hand but they are taking with the other and also with both feet and calling us derogatory names in the process.
If you’re wondering, I am now team #deleteuber!