In a press release, Uber announced its intention to increase its investments in Egypt by EGP 500m, as its success to date in Cairo surpasses any other city in the Middle East with a record 30,000 drivers.
Over the next two years, Uber’s investment in the MENA region is expected to reach EGP 2.2bn, in order to provide more resources, training centres, and office spaces, as well as technology and network development.
“The government is very clear that innovative technologies can play a crucial role in helping people get around our cities and so it is encouraging that regulations for ride-sharing are under discussion,” Anthony Khoury, general manager of Uber Egypt, added.
Internationally, Uber is operating in a legal gray zone, in which drivers do not have proper permits for their activity. Dozens of Uber drivers have had their cars impounded since the driver service began in Egypt. Two Uber executives in France were arrested in February for illegal storage of personal information and operating without a licence. More than 50 United States federal cases have been opened on similar charges.
Uber gained popularity owing to customers’ concerns about “safety and affordability”, as well as the drivers’ interest in flexible employment.
In a recent visit, David Plouffe, member of the company’s board of directors, stated that 20% of public transportation users in Greater Cairo use Uber. Khoury said this is attributed to Uber “introducing a safe, reliable, and efficient way to move around the city”, while also creating “valuable economic opportunities at a time when unemployment remains all too common in the Middle East”.
40% of Uber drivers state that they had been completely unemployed before starting work with Uber, while 70% have said that their part-time Uber job now supplements their income.
Cairo’s local taxi drivers have resisted the Uber wave, launching the “We are the Taxi” initiative, which aims at renewing the image of local taxi services after calling for a ban on Uber. A report published by Grattan Institute in April, determined that peer-to-peer services like Uber and Airbnb can provide large benefits to the economy. However, governments need to ensure a balanced approach towards consumer and provider support. The report highlighted that governments had hoped to ban services like Uber, but wishing that technology will disappear has never worked in the modern age.