Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ethiopia’s ride-hailing market

Photo By Anteneh Aklilu


In an exclusive interview with Capital, Yekenalem Abebe (PhD), the Country Manager of Yango in Ethiopia, sheds light on the innovative approach of Yango, a leading ride-hailing company, in navigating the Ethiopian market. With a distinguished background in consultancy and a deep understanding of infrastructure development, Yekenalem brings a wealth of expertise to his role, driving Yango’s mission to revolutionize transportation in Ethiopia. Yango, renowned for its cutting-edge technology and commitment to customer satisfaction, operates in Ethiopia with a vision to offer convenient and efficient transportation services through its user-friendly mobile application. Yekenalem discusses Yango’s unique challenges, strategies for growth, commitment to safety, and future outlook in this interview.

Capital: What unique challenges and opportunities do you see in the Ethiopian market for Yango?

Yekenalem Abebe: The Ethiopian market presents exciting opportunities for Yango, driven by a rapidly growing urban population, increasing smartphone penetration, and a growing demand for convenient and affordable transportation. However, challenges remain, including pre-existing, inefficient trends in driver and user interaction via ride-sharing applications that are inefficient both in terms of service quality and cost.

For example, drivers usually call customers to confirm the pickup location and for navigation support (this is considered very unprofessional in developed ride-hailing markets in another part of the globe). Users also are not used to putting the exact pickup and destination locations in the app and rely on their own or drivers’ knowledge for navigation.

Yango’s in-app map navigation resolves this, can reduce operational costs for partner drivers, and transfers some of the savings to users. 

Capital: How does Yango differentiate itself from competitors in the market?

Yekenalem: I would say that firstly, unlike most of our competitors, Yango uses the latest cutting-edge technologies, for example, own maps of the city, without having to address Google Maps or any other third-party mapping service which is one of the most expensive and time-consuming parts in the service operation. This allows us to quickly adapt and update the service, and also reduces costs, which positively affects the convenience and availability of the service. This is beneficial for the passengers and the partner drivers alike.

For passengers it results in a more affordable price without losing quality. The quality is ensured by the rating that every passenger gives after finishing the ride – and the partner drivers with lower ratings might be disconnected from the service. Also Yango provides support to the passengers via the dedicated support team. Also, the passengers can enjoy “multiple destinations” and “multiple orders” features for their convenience – not a feature our competitors can offer, as far as we know.

At the same time we must underline that the low prices do not damage the income of the partner driver for whom using the Yango app provides more efficient car usage and the possibility to reduce gasoline consumption because of the “chain ordering” feature and smart order distribution. The affordable prices are there because thanks to Yango intelligent technologies, including maps, and the efficient calculations of the best possible route based on machine learning, the partner driver can do more trips per hour and ensure good income for the same working hours.

Capital: What measures do you have in place to ensure the safety and security of both passengers and drivers?

Yekenalem: Safety is one of Yango’s major priorities. The technology provides innovative security features and technologies that allow both users and partner drivers to feel safe and comfortable during each trip. For example, the app allows the user to send his/her route to friends or family members or contact emergency services via the app if it’s needed. Also Yango deploys AI-powered driving pattern monitoring to detect unsafe partner driver behavior and take corrective measures. Safety strategy also includes rolling out in-app vehicle safety inspections to continuously ensure cars meet required quality and safety standards.

Capital: What strategies does Yango employ to foster growth and sustainability in the Ethiopian market?

Yekenalem: Yango takes a multifaceted approach to fostering both growth and sustainability. This involves continuous investment in technology and innovation, with efforts dedicated to improving the user experience through the app and exploring new features to enhance its functionality.

Capital: Can you explain the process of onboarding drivers onto your platform? What criteria do they need to meet?

Yekenalem: All driver onboarding, support and education activities are run by our franchise partner G2G IT solution. Yango leverages its AI powered driver and vehicle screening functionality to guarantee both partner driver quality and passenger safety. Firstly, partner drivers must possess a valid Ethiopian driving license. Drivers can do self registration on YangoPro directly by uploading the partner driver license picture and submitting a selfie holding their driver license. If there is any suspicious information, we do a manual check and inform the driver to take corrective measures.  

Secondly, our franchise partner collects additional documentation (e.g., business license, vehicle registration document, insurance papers) to ensure partner drivers compliance with legal requirements. Finally, partner drivers are invited for training programs covering essential aspects of safety, customer service, and platform usage. Additionally, Yango requires drivers to operate well-maintained vehicles, ensuring the comfort and security of passengers throughout their rides.

 Capital: How is Yango operating in Ethiopia and can you discuss any partnerships or collaborations that Yango has initiated or participated in?

Yekenalem: The most important part to understand here is that Yango is not a taxi company, but an online service that connects passengers and taxi service providers. You can think of it just like Google, Netflix and Facebook that provide online services in other sectors.

In Ethiopia we partner with one of the leading local brands ShuuFare, a G2G IT Group company, which is a franchise holder launching Yango operations in Ethiopia. By combining Yango’s technological prowess and global quality standards with ShuuFare’s deep understanding of the Ethiopian market, we believe that our service not only meets but exceeds the expectations of our customers, transforming their transportation experience.

Capital: How does Yango approach issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility in its Ethiopian operations?

Yekenalem: Yango Ethiopia prioritizes environmental and social responsibility by implementing a multi-pronged approach to sustainability. This involves promoting eco-friendly practices such as encouraging the use of fuel-efficient vehicles and exploring alternative energy options. Furthermore, the company invests in comprehensive partner driver training to promote responsible driving habits and minimize the environmental impact of their operations. To further solidify its commitment to sustainability, Yango engages in social responsibility initiatives that address local needs and contribute to the overall well-being of the communities it serves.

Capital: How do you handle the payment of royalty fees when users utilize your app, particularly given the challenges surrounding foreign currency in the country’s current economic climate?

Yekenalem: The franchisee is responsible for collecting the commission for platform usage, with G2G IT solution currently levying a modest 3% fee on orders. Yango, at present, does not collect any commission, and negotiations are underway regarding the settlement options for licensing fees with our partner. 

Capital: How do you handle customer complaints or issues with rides, such as driver behavior or vehicle cleanliness?

Yekenalem: Yango prioritizes passenger satisfaction and maintains a dedicated customer support team to address any complaints or issues with rides. We encourage passengers to report any concerns through the app via text chat. Support team investigates each complaint thoroughly and takes appropriate action, including partner driver coaching, account suspension, or offering refunds/compensation as needed.

Capital: In what ways do you ensure fair pricing for both passengers and drivers, especially during peak hours or high-demand times?

Yekenalem: Yango app concept is to ensure a balance between affordability for passengers and fair compensation for partner drivers through a transparent and dynamic pricing model. This model considers real-time factors like supply and demand, distance, and time of day to determine fares. Passengers enjoy competitive pricing, making Yango a budget-friendly option for everyday commutes. We believe in transparency and that is why the application provides passengers with estimated fares upfront before booking, allowing them to make informed decisions based on their budget and travel needs. We constantly analyze and refine the app pricing algorithms to ensure that the prices suggested by the transportation providers to the users remains fair, transparent, and beneficial for both passengers and partner drivers.

Capital: What steps do you take to ensure compliance with local regulations and laws governing ride-hailing services?

Yekenalem: Yango operational concept is the utmost respect for local regulations and laws. Yango only works with legally registered and compliant franchise partners. We maintain a dedicated compliance team that monitors and ensures our operations adhere to all relevant Ethiopian regulations governing ride-hailing services. We actively engage with local authorities and participate in industry discussions to ensure our practices align with evolving regulations.

Capital: How do you address concerns about congestion and traffic congestion caused by ride-hailing services in the city?

Yekenalem: Yango acknowledges the potential for ride-hailing services to contribute to traffic congestion. As a responsible corporate citizen, we actively implement measures to mitigate our impact and promote sustainable urban mobility. To mitigate this, we believe in open communication and actively engaging with local authorities, sharing data-driven insights and participating in city planning initiatives. This collaborative approach allows us to work together towards solutions that address traffic congestion challenges effectively. Through these efforts, Yango demonstrates its commitment to sustainable urban development and strives for a more efficient and environmentally friendly transportation landscape in Addis Ababa.

Capital: What plans do you have for expanding your service coverage area or introducing new features to improve the user experience?

Yekenalem: Yango is dedicated to continuous improvement and expansion. We are committed to serving a wider range of users by gradually expanding our service coverage area to reach more communities across Ethiopia. This allows us to cater to the diverse needs of the growing population. Additionally, we actively develop and implement new features based on valuable user feedback and evolving market trends.This commitment to innovation and growth ensures Yango remains a dynamic and user-centric platform within the Ethiopian transportation landscape.

Capital: How do you see the future of ride-hailing services evolving, particularly in response to emerging technologies and changing consumer preferences?

Yekenalem: The future of ride-hailing services is expected to be shaped by emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles and electric mobility solutions. Yango closely monitors these advancements and actively explores their potential integration into our platform in a responsible and sustainable manner. We also anticipate evolving consumer preferences towards personalized experiences and seamless integration with other mobility options. We strive to adapt and innovate to meet these changing demands while maintaining our commitment to safety, affordability, and social responsibility.

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