Global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc is in talks with regulators over plans to expand into two West African countries and provide a boat service in Lagos, a company executive said on Thursday.
Uber, which said it has 36,000 active drivers in sub-Saharan Africa, operates in a number of countries in East and South Africa but is largely absent from West Africa, aside from Nigeria and Ghana.
The firm has identified the region as a target for potential expansion, Chief Business Officer Brooks Entwistle told Reuters. He said the company was in talks with regulators in Ivory Coast and Senegal regarding the possible launch of services.
The initiative by Uber is expected to bring some level of relief to residents of Lagos, a city presently beset by heavy congestion.
Entwistle, who spoke to Reuters during an interview in Lagos, said the company was in talks with the Lagos state government about providing a transport system on the city’s waterways as a way of bypassing its choked roads.
“We are looking at the waterways here, which are very interesting to us as it relates to a potential service,” said Entwistle.
“We did launch Uber Boat in Mumbai and we have watched the product develop. It’s in its early stages and we think there is high relevance here,” he said, referring to Lagos.
The Uber executive, who described Lagos as “one of the great growth opportunity cities in the world”, said the company has also held discussions with a bus firm and regulators in the city.
He said the talks were in line with a global push by the company to develop products that can work alongside public transit systems.
Entwistle said the combination of population growth and congestion made Lagos, and other cities in the region, attractive.