25/04/2018 06:09 SAST | Updated 25/04/2018 06:10 SAST

Green Scooter E-Hailing Service Could Electrify SA Taxi Market

Although he did not get to work for Uber, Fezile Dhlamini says it is one of his greatest inspirations.

Green Scooter founder Fezile Dhlamini.
Green Scooter founder Fezile Dhlamini.

After being rejected by e-hailing service Uber seven times, Fezile Dhlamini decided to start his own operation called Green Scooter.

"I have always had a passion for the digital space. I had my first computer when I was six years old," he told HuffPost.

In 2015, he drew up a business plan that could one day see him become Uber's direct competition. Dhlamini's eco-friendly electric scooters will be launched in September — but more than 600 people have already downloaded the Green Scooter app.

"We are still going into the pilot phase, and we will be testing it around different parts of the country," he said.

He decided on electric vehicles specifically to "lessen carbon emissions". He currently has 20 of the scooters, which are manufactured by a Swedish company.

Although he never got to work for Uber, he says that it is one of his greatest inspirations.

"People who inspire me [also] include Steve Jobs; he did not know how to code, but he built the brand."

E-hailing vs metered taxis

Since e-hailing platforms were introduced to South Africa, arson, assault and even murder have become worryingly frequent features of an ongoing struggle between disruptive digital services and metered taxi operations.

"I want to make sure that all sectors are on the same page," Dhlamini said, when asked how he is going to protect drivers in an industry that has become dangerous. "We are trying to find the middle ground and work with taxi associations and government."

The app will also have alert functions, so if drivers ever feel they are in danger, they can alert a security company partnering with the app to come to their aid.