Uber has identified the West African region as a target for potential expansion, Chief Business Officer Brooks Entwistle told Reuters. He said the company was in talks with regulators in Ivory Coast and Senegal regarding the possible launch of services.
“Both Abidjan and Dakar are logical opportunities for us,” said Entwistle, adding that discussions were at an early stage. He did not disclose further details.
“We have talked about West Africa today as being a big growth priority for us and launch priority for us moving forward,” said Entwistle.
Ivory Coast and Senegal have two of the world’s fastest growing economies, according to the International Monetary Fund. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is also the continent’s most populous nation.
A number of motorcycle ride-hailing firms have also targeted West Africa as an area for expansion in the last few months.
Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, a megacity of around 20 million inhabitants built on a lagoon where Uber began operating in July 2014, is beset by heavy congestion.
Entwistle said the combination of population growth and congestion made Lagos, and other cities in the region, attractive.
The United Nations predicts that Nigeria’s population will more than double to 400 million by 2050, which would make it the third most populous country in the world after China and India.
Uber faces stiff competition in African cities from Estonian ride-hailing firm Bolt, which until early 2019 was called Taxify. Bolt has grabbed business largely by taking a smaller cut from drivers using its app.