UberEats is a blueprint for growth into Africa

Johannesburg - Uber plans to take its online food-delivery service into Africa’s major metropolises from next year after piloting the service in Gauteng this year.

Johannesburg this week became the 34th city offering UberEats, Uber’s app-driven food-delivery service.

The company was launched in Toronto, Canada, last December following the success of the ride-hailing service that has disrupted the taxi industry worldwide, including in South Africa, where it has sparked conflict with the metered-taxi industry.

Uber’s operations manager, Dave Kitley, said the food business would offer the company’s partner drivers more opportunities to work while transforming the way restaurants conduct their business, giving them scope to expand beyond their brick-and-mortar operations.

“It gives restaurants a different way of thinking about the economics of doing things the way they do,” Kitley told City Press at the launch this week.

“Right now, we want to expand the business in the big cities in South Africa and then the rest of the continent. We have big aspirations for Africa.”

Uber started its African operations in South Africa in 2013 and to date has more than 8 000 partner drivers in 12 African cities operating across nine countries.

Initially, the food service will only be available in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, covering areas around Sunninghill and Northcliff before being spread out to other parts of Gauteng.

So far, 85 restaurants have signed up, including St Paul’s and Café del Sol. More will be added in future.

On average, it will take between five and 10 minutes to deliver the food, with deliveries being limited to a radius of 3.5km. The food will be delivered by the company’s UberX drivers with two-wheel transporters being added later.

No minimum orders will be required and the delivery cost has been fixed at R20.

READ: How Uber plans to disrupt SA's delivery industry

The company charges restaurants that join the service a 30% fee. UberEats users will be required to download the app separately from that of the taxi service, but use their existing login details.

“We will use our expertise to provide diners with a seamless food experience, as we have done with the ride business,” Kitley said.

Speaking about the company’s ride service business, general manager for sub-Saharan Africa Alon Lits said the expansion was progressing smoothly.

“We hope to change the cities we are operating in for the better,” Lits said.

“We are seeing a lot of inbound interest from different countries.”

Globally, the company planned to provide its ride services in every city with a population of more than 200 000 in the next five years, he said.

Earlier this month, Lits told City Press that Uber’s next disruptive venture would be UberPool, which allows those looking for a ride to share trips.

The company was also looking at driverless cars, which could be commercialised within the next five to 10 years, he said.

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