VIDEO: New SA e-hailing player ready to ride

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 30 Mar 2023
BozaRide MD Ncamiso Mathebula and technical director Flubert Taga. (Photograph by Lesley Moyo)
BozaRide MD Ncamiso Mathebula and technical director Flubert Taga. (Photograph by Lesley Moyo)

Locally-developed ride-hailing platform BozaRide yesterday officially announced its entry in the South African market, with rollout set to begin in Gauteng next month.

The e-hailing app debuts as other players have struggled to make a dent in the local market, with established international rivals Uber and Bolt dominating the market.

Last year saw South African ride-hailing company NextNow quietly shut its doors, one year after it opened. Similarly, Chinese-based multinational ride-hailing company DiDi Chuxing unexpectedly shut down its South African operations last April, exactly one year since its local arrival.

Despite this, BozaRide has not been deterred, announcing availability of its service for the Gauteng province, with plans to expand to other cities/towns across the country later in the year.

Speaking at the launch event, MD and co-founder Ncamiso Mathebula said the company is aware of the challenges facing the e-hailing industry in SA, both from a driver and rider perspective.

“We said to ourselves that we need to do something about this. Therefore, we came up with BozaRide,” he stated.

“Some of the biggest challenges faced by the e-hailing industry in South Africa are regulatory issues, safety concerns for both drivers and riders, development of a sustainable business model and low profitability for drivers.

“At BozaRide, we identified these challenges and aim to address them. We look to collaborate with professionals and relevant organisations that share our values.

“We are thrilled to officially introduce ourselves as well as our services for e-hailing consumers in South Africa and the country’s market. What sets us apart from international competitors in the market is that we are a locally-developed platform and thus understand the needs of the local user.

“Our services and innovations resonate with both drivers and riders, and cater for different needs when it comes to safety, convenience and affordability.”

Mathebula pointed out that safety is one of the main value propositions. “To improve the safety of the riders and drivers, we’ve come up with a user account and verification management system. We do not allow one user to have multiple accounts because that creates anonymity.”

The BozaRide app uses a biometric (facial) verification system to avoid registration of multiple accounts by the same users and unauthorised uses of the app, a mandatory one-time PIN for all trips, a zone risk feature to alert drivers when driving in high-risk areas, a functionality to disclose the number of riders upon requesting a ride, an SOS button to connect to next-of-kin contacts and other emergency contacts.

Furthermore, for its rider app, the platform plans to eliminate cash trips after a certain hour in certain areas, noted Mathebula.

Drivers are partners

BozaRide’s driver app is available to download from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and AppGallery.

The e-hailing platform is doing driver recruitment, with 140 drivers said to have already applied.

According to the MD, the app will be available for riders in April, targeting the holiday period. It will start off in the main metros, such as Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

BozaRide notes its pricing model is designed to ensure “fair pricing” for riders, while ensuring “fair compensation” for drivers.

It uses three payment models: the Boza wallet that exists within the app, card payments and cash.

Mathebula said the pricing model is based on the BozaRide algorithm that measures distance and time, with time including the waiting period.

“The difference between us and our competitors is that we try not to base our pricing on demand because we want our people to plan. They need to know that ‘if I choose Boza for my child to get to school every day, it’s just R100’. As opposed to the fact that it could be R100 today, but when it’s raining or there’s load-shedding, it’s R150 or R200. We don’t do that.

“Our pricing model is fixed based on price and distance, which we believe is fair to the rider and the driver.”

Flubert Taga, BozaRide technical director, noted there are four vehicle classifications available on the app.

“The four vehicle classes were selected with the user in mind. Our goal is to provide all riders with an alternative to vehicles for their daily needs.

“Additionally, BozaRide will introduce an exclusive feature for minor riders, which is called Boza Kids. With this functionality, parents and guardians will be allowed to request and recommend previous drivers for their kids on the app.”

Taga added BozaRide treats drivers as partners and not contractors. “BozaRide wants to bring drivers closer and involve them in key areas of operations that affect the business and industry, such as pricing model, safety and promotional tactics.

“We also offer a mandatory skills training and development programme to empower drivers. This is aimed at regulating and formalising the industry and ensuring drivers are operating at a professional level. The training includes customer service, conflict management and etiquette training.”