The sharing economy has taken Africa by storm.
During a recent panel discussion at the Business Traveller Awards in Johannesburg, Tinashe Ruzane, Operations Business Development for Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, and Aidan Baigrie, Client Partner and Regional Head for Facebook in Africa, discuss what we can still expect of the future of the sharing economy in Africa.
Where are we in South Africa with the sharing economy compared to the rest of the world?
Ultimately, the buyers of the sharing economy are buying capacity on mobile devices, so it’s worth looking at where we are as far as e-commerce is concerned, explains Ruzane. “When we look at e-commerce in South Africa, we’re not quite as far as the US, but we are starting to adapt these technologies. The fact that Uber exists in South Africa, means that people in South Africa appreciate the convenience of accessing this capacity through a smartphone. We’re on the track to unlocking capacity for Africa. More start-ups will come about in the next few years looking to unlock capacity throughout South Africa via mobile.”
Should the sharing economy be seen as a disruptor?
There are two ways you can look at the sharing economy, says Baigrie. “Either, you think this is a dangerous and irresponsible evolution or you embrace it and see it as a really exciting part of change. I’m at a generational level but also in an environment where this really excites me. I love the change. From a Facebook perspective, we’re lucky to be taking part in this ecosystem.”
“I get why for the travel industry, it’s scary,” adds Baigrie. However, it’s important to try and adopt a more forward-looking view and embrace the change. “How is travel going to change? How is VR going to affect travel? Are we going to sightsee like before? Will holidays become more experiential?”
How do you approach customers and suppliers in a corporate travel space and convince them that Uber is a safe platform to use?
“We do criminal background checks and driver evaluations. We have screens for every market,” says Ruzane, adding that it’s all about transparency. “Transparency is fundamental to create trust on these platforms.”
What can we expect from the future?
“We’ll start redefining the way we think about capacity, even beyond the travel industry,” says Ruzane, mentioning that Uber has already started venturing into Uber Eats and Uber Rush. “It’s really about using capacity more efficiently and optimising the productivity of the capacity. Maybe in the future, you could be requesting an Uber equivalent for your flight?”
Bairgrie adds that in three or four years, we’ll probably be able to meet each other virtually at the Colosseum in Rome or at a tennis match in Wimbledon. We’ll also be able to interact with characters in movies. He says: “There is an incredible sense of experience waiting for us in travel.”