The French travel app aims to transform the taxi experience in Senegal

Man checks Yango taxi program on the phone, in Dakar, Senegal, March 13, 2022. REUTERS / Ngouda Dione

March 14, 2022

Nelly Peyton and Eladie Toto

DAKAR (Reuters) – Maget Mbaye always took a taxi to her banking job in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, but she was exhausted from bargaining over prices and inhaling steam every day through open windows.

She left it all behind when she launched the French Heetch app in January. The trip is a bit more expensive, but she considers it a small price to pay for the peace of mind of a better car and a fixed price.

“Sometimes we have dusty taxis, where the windows do not close, the doors open only from the outside. Ever since I used Heetch, I’ve been getting decent cars, ”the 33-year-old Mbaye said.

Heetch is the second travel app to be launched in Senegal after Yango, owned by Russian technology giant Yandex, launched in December.

Both are experiencing a largely untapped market for trucking services in French-speaking West Africa, where the industry is growing more slowly than in English-speaking countries such as Nigeria and Ghana.

The growth of the middle class and the widespread use of smartphones have created an attractive market in Senegal, but there are problems. Many drivers are illiterate, have never used GPS and are used to negotiating prices.

Yango, which operates in 21 countries around the world, was launched in Côte d’Ivoire in 2018, where it competes with industry giant Uber.

Heetch, one of the top three driving apps in France, also plans to launch in Côte d’Ivoire this month. In Senegal, about 3,000 people have downloaded the app so far. Yango declined to give figures.

Any taxi driver can register in any application if he is undergoing training and his car meets safety standards. While several hundred have signed up for Heetch and Yango, some are not impressed.

“I earn more by driving around the city than those who use Yango,” Modu Gning said. “If a customer has to pay 2,000 CFA francs ($ 3.37), Yango charges 1,300. Yango is fine, but not a taxi driver.”

App companies remember not to confront taxi drivers who have staged protests in other countries against travel apps.

“We are not a taxi killer program,” said Patrick Pedersen, Heetch’s general manager for expansion.

(1 dollar = 593.0000 CFA francs)

(Additional reports by Nguda Dion in Dakar and Ange Aboe in Abidjan; Written by Nelly Peyton; Edited by Aaron Ross and Mike Harrison)

The French travel app aims to transform the taxi experience in Senegal

Source link The French travel app aims to transform the taxi experience in Senegal

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