Is Uber profitable in South Africa?

uber1bDon’t get me wrong, I love Uber, at first I believed it was amongst the greatest innovations within the 21st century amongst Facebook and Twitter until I was waiting on the street on a rainy night (courtesy of cyclone Dineo) and all I seemed to get from Uber drivers allocated to me was, sorry your driver had to cancel.

Four drivers had cancelled, humiliatingly so as I had gone on and on to my colleagues bragging about the service and low cost Uber offered as compared to dodgy security details patrolling the night that charge them 20-30 rand each for a trip or the conventional taxi drivers who charge 100 – 200 rand over the same distances. I was simply running out of answers to where my ride was as my initial 14 minutes ETA had flown past with no car in sight. The last driver to decline was kind enough (or not) to call and tell me to make other plans as it did not make “money sense” to drive 15 minutes for a journey of five and as much as I wanted to show Uber’s effectiveness and style to my colleagues, I had to agree. For the first time in my lovely relationship with Uber, I saw her other side. My five minute ride didn’t matter but the driver’s 15 did.


The rain poured down heavily and with no other choice I went along with friends to ask patrolling security detail at a nearby garage to take me home. Within a few seconds of arriving, one determined Uber driver who had eventually accepted my trip, called to ask for my whereabouts. In my apparent demise, I had packed my phone in a dry pocket and proceeded to the garage when he decided to come fetch me. Initially the ride was supposed to have been far cheaper as we where going to take the same taxi and split the charge but now because my other friends had already made other plans, I had to cough up the fare alone, as such because I loved their service before then, feared to have to pay for a ride which I did not cancel.


As usual my ride was nice, the car was smart and smelled nice, my driver even hard the car warm and stirred up conversations that have become synonymous with my every ride. Because the service is relatively new in South Africa and nothing like it, I still have a lot of questions on how it operates and it is like getting it from the horse’s mouth.


John (not his real name) was kind enough to explain to me as to the reason why there seemed to be no car available to me when I requested. It is in the way the service operates that might leave you wondering if the business owners of such a huge company are making any money at the end of the day. John told me how he has to wait for hours at the airport in a queue from Uber until eventually he is allocated a passenger. The queue he says can last for hours until eventually getting a passenger who could be going as far as the next city. All fair and done, the customer will pay for the ride but the driver will have to travel back again to the same airport for a fee that reflects only the passengers destination and not the cost to come back and also minus the service fees that Uber takes from the driver.


And as for when he picked me up, he was just from dropping a passenger on his way back to yet another queue when he decided to accept my ride.


It took him about 14 minutes to get to where I was, I am guessing there where no other Uber taxis in the area at that moment. It then took us 5 minutes to get home, a ride, which cost 35 rands. I honestly felt bad having to pay him such little money but because I have little in depth understanding of how he is making his money, the little conversation we had was enough to let me know that on this particular trip, the poor fellow came out with nothing.


“We as passengers can sometimes benefit from Uber, but we can’t always rely on it.  It is worth considering, while enjoying an Uber ride – what would happen if Uber effectively put regular taxi services out of business?  What would happen if we got a ‘no cars available’ message and had no other alternatives to turn to

Maybe Uber will grow to ‘meet the market’.  But if it is losing money at present, is more growth going to cause it to lose money faster or to stop losing money and turn profitable?  More to the point, is there an unlimited supply of potential drivers that Uber can add to its driver base?

The answer to the question about driver supply is key.  That very low fare you just paid to an Uber driver may or may not be sufficient for the driver to stay in business.  Remember that Uber takes 20% – 30% of the fare you pay for its role in the middle, and all of a sudden, a R30.00 Uber fare means a net of perhaps R24.00 for the driver, who then has to pay all his own costs and also self-employment taxes on whatever slim ‘profit’ may remain.” MiscellaneousReviewsTravel


Uber’s business models centres on being cheap and now that we have shunned conventional taxis who in turn are feeling the competition and leaving for home in the early hours of the night, we seem to be stuck with a service that might not have enough drivers to come to your aid or unwilling to come through because it does not make profitable sense. The flip side of this dilemna is knowing a colleague who is still waiting to have his Uber permit approved so he can start offering rides.

Uber is a great service, but before many South Africans get vehicle credit to put up a fleet on the streets of Johannesburg in the hope of making a kill, they need to come up with a driver base large enough to put out all the fears of being stuck on the road with no driver willing to accept your ride, no matter how insignificant it might be to the business.





The second 1st lady.

Regardless of what many may say about Robert Mugabe especially being sarcastically branded as running a “Democratic Monarchy“, My readings about his other side of life “in the otherroom” proved that the presence of trueloveaffection and faith could actually and prospectively fuel the efforts of a man, irrespective of the road he has chosen to travel.” Iambrokofi

Came across this passage from a blog from Iambrokofi:  HEART OF A KING – and in a writing that was inspiring at first and then eventually becoming a sad end to a great tale.

#Iambrokofi’s attachment of first ladies in his blog and how they influence the greatness of a serving president was clear, citing examples but fell short of describing our current demise as Zimbabweans, that of the 2nd wife.

No matter how we look at it, first ladies shape the way a president will hold office, it is a given in the world today. Take Michelle Obama for instance and how many view her as the pillar and council that made Barack reach full potential. By doing so, she became an important voice in their nation, when she spoke people listened.

And so it was when Amai Sally was still with us, she was a voice of reason and a pillar to a great man. Sadly the latter, the “queen bee” has given us no joy nor reason to dream beautiful dreams. We have almost no chance of impregnating our country with success. We are but like the wind, no end in sight to our journey and no memory of whence we came from.


“Staying true to yourself never goes out of style”

“Staying true to yourself never goes out of style”

I guess the statement is true. Many a times we have tried so hard just to conform to other views and trends while chucking ours in the trash can.

Somali-American Halima Aden is staying true to her identity and her lifestyle, chosing not to hide it or fake it no matter what industry says about it.

Normally for a model, we should be able to view a masterpiece from the designer without an hinderances on the body, in short, all should be from the designer and very little of somebody else’s work. But that has not stopped the model who loves her origins to insist on wearing her hijab (covering her hair and neck).

Read more on the story via Somali-American Model Halima Aden Makes Headlines After Rocking Her Hijab At Kanye West’s Fashion Show — Yaa Somuah

Photo Courtesy of Yeezy 


What strikes me more is the fact that many people have lost their identity to conform to standards set by industry trend setters. Many have joined cults while others have remained silent on issues of religion and faith that would have largely contributed to their rise.

In the western world, a well dressed and good looking woman will mostly have a good hair do that compliments what she has on, having a hijab moves contrary to this notion.

“For Aden, being cast proved incredible both for the experience itself and the chance to see the famous family behind the label. “I had the opportunity to briefly meet Kanye and Kim at my fitting yesterday, so that was fun!” says Aden…. Though finding looks that reflect her standards of modesty can provide a momentary challenge, Aden has been heartened by the way in which stylists like Roitfeld have been willing to work with her. “Oftentimes, they have to put me in a few things before finding something that I know would be deemed appropriate.” She said to Vogue.

Aden has started a revolution of her own. She has managed to ‘found a way to respect both her values and her desire for creative expression’ (Vogue) and in turn has turned heads in doing so, a lesson which everyone who is in the entertainment industry is supposed to heed.

“My goal is to send a message to Muslim women and young women everywhere that it’s okay to break stereotypes and be yourself,” she says. “Always stay true to who you are—barriers can and will be broken!”


We shall overcome!

We shall overcome!

The year has started on a positive note (well, except for Trump in office) and sadly with a bit of writer’s block (largely attributed to the festivities and travelling that I undertook) but good in other terms such as my baby starting to walk and lip sync a few nursery rhymes and spoken word at just over one year old.

I would love to know how at my son’s age, one year four, what thoughts and plans my father had for me. I can imagine I was full of promise and potential that all they ever envisaged was nothing but the best. That was before the nightmare of politics and never ending leaderships and a dirty and unforgiving last minute retrenchment saw him etch out a living as an entrepreneur and now village farmer. It all went south and to the best of his abilities, pulled through.

It makes me look at this young soul that I was blessed with and wonder if ever I can turn out to be the best ‘poppa’ he will ever have. Appreciative of the fact that we do not hold the future and in the blink of an eye, things can change for the better, I pray to the Almighty and powerful to watch over him and bless him with wisdom to reach full potential .

There has been a distinct call for change of reigns within my country and many nations across the globe upon leaders and governments that simply cannot seem to make life better for their masses. For in their disregard of social and economic concerns, they have changed the prospects of many lives and brought nothing but suffering to the masses, leading to once was prospective candidates in dire need to do anything under the sun to earn a living.

And so I have been disappointed so many a times that I have ceased to try and cry for someone to look at my plight and help. Simply said I am no beggar but I would rather be a beginner. One that is capitally minded rather than in search of capital. To be an owner rather than to owe people.

As the year progresses, lets make new paths for ourselves, looking up to God for better openings. If a little David in the telecommunication business (Strive Masiyiwa) could stand against a Goliath of red tape and stringent laws against such businesses and still prevailed then I am hopeful, come heavy rain nor sunshine I can too.

Let me belatedly say, happy 2017!