Uber-style taxi app ZayRide has launched in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, claiming it is ideally suited to the slower internet speeds encountered by users.

By Tom Jackson (Disrupt Africa) |

Uber, at least for the meantime, is unlikely to launch in Ethiopia, meaning local firms have been given a head start in the taxi hailing sector.

Disrupt Africa reported earlier this week another Addis Ababa-based taxi app, RIDE, was pivoting away from its SMS-based functionality to a mobile application, with a relaunch planned for early next year.

RIDE now appears to have lost its first mover advantage with the launch of ZayRide, a more traditional Uber-style on-demand taxi dispatching system that connects riders and taxi drivers based on location.

But founder Habtamu Tadesse claims ZayRide is better suited to local conditions than Uber would be given that it is tailored to work on slow internet.

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“Uber requires 3G, LTE or fast internet speeds, whereas ZayRide works perfectly on slow internet,” he said. “So it can be applied anywhere in Africa. We minimized the features and we use low resolution pictures so it can work on slow internet.”

Like Uber, ZayRide does not own any cars, but rather works with taxi companies and takes a 15 per cent commission on fares. Uptake has been relatively good given the startup only launched last month, with 1,000 riders and 530 drivers registered on the platform. There have been over 300 trips made so far.

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