Uber has launched a two-week boat service pilot in the Nigerian capital of Lagos. The city is already well-known for its highly congested roads, and the United Nations (UN) has predicted that the country's population will more than double to 400 million by 2050, making it the world's third-most-populous country after China and India.
The waterway service, UberBOAT, is being operated in partnership with both local boat operator Texas Connection Ferries and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), and will be used to transport travelers in a city that holds 20 million people.
“This initiative is aimed at providing commuters with an easy and affordable way to get in and out of the city’s business districts,” Uber said in a statement, according to Reuters.
The pilot phase will operate on weekdays between two locations in the city, with passengers charged a flat fee of 500 naira ($1.38 USD) per trip. Uber officials have confirmed that there will be four trips a day, carrying up to 35 people on a boat. However, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, said his city hopes the pilot will lead to "ferries that carry 60 to 80 people."
Companies aren't just focusing on the waterways in Nigeria. A number of motorcycle ride-hailing startups have set their sights on the region. Earlier this year, Nigerian-based Gokada raised $5.3 million in a Series A funding round. Co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh, Gokada had more than 1,000 motorcycles and drivers on its app at the time, connecting commuters to moto-taxis.
The company said then that it would use the financing to boost its fleet and ride volume, as well as create a network to offer goods and services to its drivers. One thing the company said it wouldn’t be doing with the money: entering new countries in Africa.
“We plan to expand all over Nigeria. We think it’s a large enough market for now,” said Saleh.