French ride-hailing app Heetch recently launched in Senegal – the second app to do so recently to assess an untapped market.
The firm is also set to enter the Ivory Coast market, where it plans to rival Yango, which is owned by Russian tech giant Yandex and which started operating in Senegal in December 2021.
Ride-hailing services have been slower to take off in Francophone West Africa than in Anglophone countries, including Nigeria and Ghana, where the industry has been quicker to catch on.
An increasing middle class and widespread smartphone use have created an attractive market in Senegal, but there are also challenges. The majority of drivers are illiterate, have never used a GPS, and negotiate prices.
Yango launched in Ivory Coast in 2018, where it competes with industry giant Uber. Yango operates in 21 countries worldwide.
The Heetch ride-hailing app, one of the top three in France, will launch in Ivory Coast this month. So far, the application has been downloaded by approximately 3,000 people in Senegal.
If a taxi driver undergoes training and the vehicle meets safety standards, they can sign up for either app. Some people are unimpressed with Heetch and Yango while others have signed up.
“What I earn from driving around the city is more than those who use Yango,” said Modou Gning.
“Where the customer is supposed to pay 2,000 CFA francs ($3.37), Yango charges 1,300. It’s good for Yango, but not the taxi driver.”
App companies are cautious not to annoy taxi drivers, who have protested against ride-hailing apps in other countries.
Patrick Pedersen, Heetch’s general manager for expansion, says the company is not a taxi killer app.
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