New ride-hailing player debuts in SA amid fierce competition

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 14 May 2021
Mlungisi Ntombela, NextNow head of operations South Africa.
Mlungisi Ntombela, NextNow head of operations South Africa.

South African ride-hailing company NextNow has entered the local market, promising that its competitive pricing model will set it apart from established international rivals in the market.

The e-hailing app makes its debut amid increasing competition in the local market, with dominant players Uber, Bolt and InDriver lowering their pricing in recent months, in a bid to gain a larger share of SA’s e-hailing market.

In April, Chinese-based ride-hailing service DiDi Chuxing entered the local market, setting up offices in in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, with plans to expand to Cape Town next week.

NextNow, which has been piloting its service in Johannesburg, says as a home-grown firm, it aims to firmly put the continent on the ride-sharing map, after officially launching in Johannesburg this week. The company says it plans to expand nationally and eventually to African countries.

It has stringent verification processes in place before on-boarding drivers and provides a 24-hour support assistance service to customers.

“Our strong point is that we are more affordable than other international e-hailing services and we can do this by being smaller and leaner,” says Mlungisi Ntombela, NextNow head of operations South Africa.

“We are aware of the unemployment challenge the country is facing and realise that in the post-pandemic economy, we can make a huge difference in the lives of cash-strapped customers, as well as our drivers.”

The company says its mission is to accelerate the shift to efficient and autonomous mobility and e-commerce, with driver and passenger safety being a priority.

NextNow is launching the following category options, offering customers up to 50% less than market prices on the first five rides:

  • NextGo – an entry-level service for cost-conscious customers where small and hatchback vehicles are used.
  • NextRide – an affordable service that makes use of entry-level sedans.
  • NextPro and NextPro Woman – this service features luxury sedans with male or female drivers.
  • NextWoman – a service for women that is safe and secure and makes use of sedans.

The company takes 10% of the driver’s commission per trip, with a booking fee of 4%. It also offers drivers weekly data valued at R50.

The company says it has taken a number of measures to ensure utmost safety: Firstly, a one-time-PIN is sent to the customer upon request of the service, which needs to be verified by the driver − this ensures the driver is authenticated and legitimate.

All trips are geo-localised, and details of the driver and vehicle are shared with the passenger, which can also be shared with the passenger’s contacts, such as family and friends.

Furthermore, its vehicles are verified and inspected to ensure they are roadworthy and meet its standards.

NextNow business development director Babatunde Orimoloye points out the firm plans to be part of the push to help move Africa beyond being a natural resources continent to one that is fast adopting the fourth industrial revolution.

The company will use its local experience to launch in other African countries.

“As with many other African ‘children’, NextNow will be raised in SA before expanding into the rest of the continent. We are launching in Johannesburg and Tshwane before expanding to Cape Town and then Durban, followed by the rest of the country,” Orimoloye notes.

“At the moment, we are focusing on building momentum in the South African market and want to ensure we are well-established and positioned in the ‘city of gold’. But the ultimate goal is to put Africa on the global mobility solutions map.”