Uber SA highlights focus on employment creation

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 03 May 2024
Kagiso Khaole, GM of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kagiso Khaole, GM of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa.

E-hailing firm Uber South Africa has created over 100 000 economic opportunities for its e-hailing drivers and delivery couriers, since entering the local market in 2013.

Uber is now accelerating its e-mobility strategy across SA, premised on promoting employment for the youth, including those in township economies – known as the country’s economic heartland.

During a recent interview at Uber’s Johannesburg offices, Kagiso Khaole, GM of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, told ITWeb the company aims to break barriers to entry into the gig economy for unemployed youth, by fostering entrepreneurship and promoting responsible driving across the country.

“I was looking at the unemployment stats in South Africa and they're really depressing. Uber is the largest platform for work in the world. And with the country’s unemployment rate, it's very important for those platforms clustered within the gig economy, such as ours, to be able to create opportunities that will change lives.

“We are currently training more earners to work on the Uber Eats platform and the ripple effect of just one trainee who is able to earn an income is far-reaching,” he explained.

According to Khaole, a survey conducted by Uber shows that when one unemployed youth is trained and starts earning on the Uber platform, they are able feed an average of four people each month.

According to Stats SA, the fourth quarter of 2023 saw the youth (15 to 34 years) unemployment rate increase by 0.9% from 43.4% in Q3 to 44.3% in Q4.

Expanding EV fleet

Last year, Uber embarked on a job creation initiative across Gauteng, in a move to help create 10 000 jobs for youths over the next three years, through Uber Eats, its last-mile delivery platform.

The project, in which the e-hailer invested R200 million, is part of a strategic partnership forged with the Gauteng Provincial Government.

“We are bringing scores of unemployed young people from the likes of Mitchells Plain in Cape Town, and training them for our courier service. There is still a ton of work that needs to be done, as part of a broader, collective business community, when it comes to creating employment opportunities in SA, because it’s a collaborative effort.

“We’ve seen people grow from working on the platform to actually owning their own vehicle, and in some instances owning multiple vehicles, and we've had phenomenal stories about how new vehicle owners end up creating multiple opportunities for other people too,” he added.

As part of its e-mobility strategy, the company says it is looking at accelerating the rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) in SA and some other parts of the continent.

In 2020, Uber announced a global commitment to become a zero-emission mobility platform by 2040, through its Green Future programme.

Last year, the company announced its first local EV fleet, which is being used for its Uber Package delivery service. It also rolled out electric motorcycle taxis in Kenyan capital Nairobi, in the same year.

Uber also established a collaboration with Go Green Africa, a network of organisations committed to accelerating Africa’s transition to a green economy in a just and inclusive way.

“Last year, we started our strong focus on electric mobility. We started our electric scooter project in Cape Town and we also introduced our electric motor bike taxi in Kenya.

“I believe that Africa is not going to get left behind in the transition to new energy vehicles. And there is no reason why SA shouldn't be leading the continent.

“The drop in the EV prices in encouraging and I believe that we need to accelerate the change because of the great benefits association with EVs.”