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Kenya's Safaricom to launch Uber competitor

Kenya's Safaricom to launch Uber competitor.

Leading Kenyan telecoms firm Safaricom is to go head-to-head with Uber on the streets of Nairobi after partnering software firm Craft Silicon to launch a rival taxi app it says will be cheaper and better for the local economy.

The app - Littlecabs - is currently in closed beta testing while the offering is finalised, and is expected to launch to the public in early July.

Uber, which is gradually expanding across Africa, launched in Kenya at the beginning of last year, but has received criticism from local taxi firms and even seen its drivers attacked.

Safaricom chief executive officer (CEO) Bob Collymore told ITWebAfrica Littlecabs would be a cheaper alternative with more benefits for riders.

"The customer will get a cheaper ride per kilometre, as well as in-car WiFi. They will also be able to choose a female driver if they wish and can even choose the radio station they want to listen to when they use the app. They will also pay by M-Pesa," he said.

Safaricom will assist in developing the application and provide the network connectivity, with Collymore also saying drivers will pay a smaller commission per ride than with Uber, and will get their money earlier.

The operator - which will earn revenues from Littlecabs via Wi-Fi usage and M-Pesa transaction fees, is in the process of looking at other sources of revenue away from its traditional business.

"You can expect many more services like this as we position ourselves to be the platform of choice for business partners like Craft Silicon," Collymore said.

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