Hailing a Ride in Nigeria



Following the launch of UberBOAT in Lagos, in this post we take a look at the key ride and bike-hailing companies dominating the tech-enabled mobility space in Nigeria.

Recently voted the third most stressful city in the world, Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial capital state and home to over 22 million people. The state with the smallest land mass in Nigeria also has to accommodate the most cars, and as such, the city’s roads are perpetually congested.

The West African megacity’s large population and devastating traffic has made it a magnet for both local and international motorcycle and taxi-hailing apps. Since launching its new and innovative motorcycle ride-hailing service ORide in May 2019, Norwegian tech giant Opera’s latest venture has been on a journey of unabated growth. In the space of five months, ORide’s iOS and Android apps have been installed on over 3.6M Nigerian devices while monthly active users (MAU) have hit 1.8M and look set to skyrocket.

In comparison, Estonia-owned Bolt (formerly Taxify), which is a major player in the Nigerian ride-hailing scene, counts 248k monthly active users – 86% less than ORide.

Even Uber’s MAU stats fall short in comparison. With 516k monthly active users in Nigeria, Uber has approximately 71% less monthly active users than ORide.

Uber made its foray into Nigeria back in 2014, making it the first ride-hailing service to launch in the West African nation. The Silicon Valley behemoth has a strong presence in Nigeria but deals with competitors on several fronts. Uber’s latest move to launch UberBOAT comes less than a month after confirming plans to spread its dominance in Lagos’ transport network further by establishing a new bus transportation service, and four months after bike-hailing startup Gokada launched its boats service GBoat. With Lagos’ roads suffering constant traffic gridlock, the vast and underused waterways present a viable transportation alternative to relieve pressure on the roads.

Founded in 2018, Gokada is a local ride-hailing startup threatening the dominance of the likes of Uber and Bolt in the massive Nigerian market. Installed on over 305k devices, Gokada counts over 16k monthly active users in Nigeria. Earlier this year, the company raised a $5.3 million Series-A investment led by Silicon Valley VC firm Rise Capital to expand across Nigeria and explore new verticals for business growth.

The latest ride-hailing start-up to emerge in Nigeria is Russia-founded and New York-based InDriver. With 186k monthly active users in the country, InDriver’s USP is that it enables passengers to bargain with the driver, naming their own fare for nearby drivers to accept, decline or counter. The global ride-hailing company’s first entry into the African market was in 2018 when it launched in Tanzania. Since then, it has commenced operations in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and now Nigeria.

With Lagos’ population still growing at breakneck speed, adopting mobile technology is vital in Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s plans to improve the city’s transport network. However, with services such as Uber actively exploring new avenues to offer their ride-hailing service via different modes of transportation, their impact on the environment and transport policy will continue to be the subject of curiosity, research and scrutiny for years to come.