The taxi scene in South Africa has just gained some stiff competition with the launch of mobile app Uber in Johannesburg where passengers can now connect with drivers and arrange for pick up in any location around the city.
We previously reported on Uber’s plans to launch on home soil, and now the company has finally set foot in South Africa.
Uber, a $3 billion company based in San Francisco, California, announced Wednesday that they have officially launched their popular service in Africa’s busiest city: “Earlier this morning secret Ubers were spotted across Johannesburg, marking Uber’s entry to our first African city and our fifth continent.”
It officially kicked off when South African football legend and African Cup of Nations winner Mark Fish opened his iPhone in Sandton and requested a ride. Minutes later, he was picked up by his chauffeur Paul and whisked away to a meeting.
According to Business Tech, Uber, Founded in 2009, has raised $57 million in funding with the most recent activity valued at $37 million. Closed in late 2011, the recent round of funding lead by Menlo Ventures, Goldman Sachs and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos aimed at expanding the service globally.
The company also has the backing of South African hot shot, David Frankel, founder and managing partner of the Founder Collective – a seed-stage venture capital fund based in New York and Cambridge and an early seed investor in Uber.
Of the decision to launch in Johannesburg specifically, Uber says, “Johannesburg has long been known as Africa’s capital city – it’s economic heartbeat, cultural soul and a draw to dreamers from across the continent. And no matter what you call the city – Jozi, Jo’burg, eGoli – it’s no secret that getting around is not always pleasant; traffic on the M1 can be crushing and drivers are notoriously loose with speed limits.”
Uber cautions that initially, availability may be limited to users during it’s ‘secret’ testing phase although the company has said that they are working hard to ensure Uber (drivers) are available everyday.