Kenya's Safaricom launches Little Cab app to rival Uber

Pedestrians walk past a mobile phone care centre operated by Kenyan's telecom operator Safaricom in the central business district of Kenya's capital Nairobi, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s biggest telecoms operator Safaricom on Tuesday launched a ride-hailing app called Little Cab to compete with Uber [UBER.UL] and which was developed with a local software firm.

Safaricom, which is 40 percent owned by Britain’s Vodafone, and Nairobi-based software developer Craft Silicon will jointly run the services.

Little Cab cars will offer free Wi-Fi to passengers, aim to provide cheaper fares than those of competitors and offer drivers a higher share of revenues, officials of both firms said in a statement.

Uber said it welcomed the new competition in Kenya.

“At the end of the day competition is good,” said Nate Anderson, the general manager of Uber Kenya, speaking to Reuters ahead of the Tuesday launch of Little Cab.

Uber operates in several African countries, including Kenya where it launched in early 2015, drawing customers by offering lower prices and cutting out haggling over fares.

But regular taxi drivers have complained about its impact on business. In March, the Kenyan authorities charged six men with attempted murder and malicious damage to property over an attack on an Uber taxi driver in February.

Initially, Little Cab would be available on Android and Windows phones and would be made available on iOS platforms soon, the company officials said.

Reporting by Duncan Miriri and Neha Wadekar