Zimbabwe now has an app based ride-hailing service which will first be available in the capital, Harare. Known as Vaya Lift, the service has been launched by Cassava Smartech, an Econet Wireless company.

What makes the Vaya appealing is the fact that it allows for riders to pay using Zimbabwe's most dominant mobile money service, EcoCash.

"Businesses are being seriously disrupted because of the current fuel situation in our country, and it is negatively affecting business operations and productivity. But with the Vaya Lift service, you can now mitigate the situation by getting transport from anyone with fuel in their car, in the form of Vaya Partners or drivers," said Douglas Mboweni, CEO of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, at the launch of Vaya in Harare.

How Vaya works.

Extending the moat

Before the launch of Vaya, there were no known ride-hailing services operating in Zimbabwe. With the launch of Vaya, Econect can be seen as growing the ecosystem of services it provides as well as extending its competitive moat and in the process making it difficult for new entrants.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, EcoCash was reported to have passed the milestone of processing $23 billion worth of mobile money transactions in Zimbabwe since its launch. This milestone meant that the Econet owned mobile money service had over 90% market share as far as Zimbabwe's mobile money sector is concerned. Given that Vaya accepts EcoCash as a form of payment in a country that is running extremely low on physical cash, it is not difficult to see how the introduction of Vaya gives Econet an upperhand over the likes of Uber and Taxify who might be considering to later launch in Zimbabwe.

The Vaya app is available on both iOS and Android.


Cover image credit: Harare skyline, 2001. Damien Farrell/Flickr