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Uber explodes in Egypt, while EasyTaxi stutters in the Middle East

For Uber and Careem, Egypt has been a huge source of growth.


The Middle East and North Africa are relatively new markets for ride-hail companies like Uber and homegrown player Careem, but in the past year both companies have seen incredible growth across the region — specifically in Egypt.

In a series of charts that track installations and monthly usage, data company 7Park examined how ride-hail companies Careem, Uber and EasyTaxi were faring in the region. Both Uber and Careem also shared some internal numbers that help put this data in context.

Together, the data shows three main things: EasyTaxi is stuttering in its growth across the region, Careem is growing the fastest in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while Uber is seeing faster growth among new users in Egypt.

But easily the biggest takeaway from all this data is: Egypt’s ride-hail industry is booming.


Jambu Palaniappan, Uber’s general manager of Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, says the numbers that 7Park provides vastly understate the growth the company has seen in the region. In fact, Palaniappan is confident that after Uber invested $250 million in the region, the company is the leading app.

In the past year, Cairo has become the company’s fastest growing market in the Middle East and has seen 200 times growth in its total business. Of course, we don’t know Uber’s sales in whole figures, and it’s easier to grow that fast when your sales are low to begin with.

But, in Cairo alone, Uber is adding 3,000 new drivers a month. For comparison, in Brazil, Uber’s second-largest Latin America market, it plans on adding about 4,000 drivers a month over the next year.

The company wouldn’t go into as many specifics for the other countries in the region, but said drivers were performing “hundreds of thousands” of trips per month in Saudi Arabia and the UAE respectively, and it was adding “thousands” of drivers a month in Saudi Arabia alone.

As for Careem, which is in 26 cities across the region and Pakistan, the company saw 330-times growth in active users in Egypt between December 2015 and January 2015. In that same time period, the company saw nearly 20 times more active users in Saudi Arabia and nearly four times more growth in active users in the UAE. Again, we don’t know how many trips or users Careem has booked in actual numbers.

Previously, the company disclosed it was seeing a 30 percent increase in trips on a month-to-month basis in the UAE, where Careem has seen some months of profitability.

The growth numbers in Egypt alone paint an interesting picture. With a population of more than 89 million, Egypt is a huge and therefore incredibly important market for global ride-hail players. The population in Saudi Arabia and the UAE combined pales in comparison.

That’s all to say: There’s a huge potential market yet unclaimed by either Uber or Careem in Egypt and plenty of room for both to grow.

Compared to the larger global market opportunities, Egypt is certainly not in the same league as, say, China, India or the U.S., but in terms of population, it is relatively close to Mexico (more than 127 million). So it’s no surprise that as Uber has expanded in its biggest markets it has started to turn its focus to Mexico and Egypt and the regions surrounding those countries as sources of potentially sizable growth.

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