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[Column] Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar: The need for positive regulation in the ride-hailing industry

[Column] Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar: The need for positive regulation in the ride-hailing industry

Kenya's ride-hailing industry has rapidly transformed into a thriving ecosystem, attracting both entrepreneurs and enabling residents and citizens to meet their mobility needs. This dynamic sector, driven by innovation and fueled by the potential for robust revenue, is at a crucial juncture. Positive regulation has emerged as the linchpin that can propel the industry's growth while safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders. There are a myriad of reasons why embracing positive regulation is vital for Kenya's ride-hailing industry:

Consumer Data Protection:

Positive regulation serves as a guardian of consumer rights, setting benchmarks for service quality, fare transparency, and efficient dispute resolution mechanisms. By instilling confidence in the industry, these regulations encourage more people to adopt ride-hailing services. Furthermore, they mandate that ride-hailing platforms obtain explicit user consent before collecting and processing data, ensuring transparency and privacy protection. Implementing robust data encryption and security measures becomes obligatory, shielding consumer data from breaches and unauthorised access. Companies that fall short of data protection requirements face penalties, reinforcing their commitment to safeguarding user information.

Innovation and Technology Adoption:

Safety and security standards mandated by positive regulation inspire ride-hailing companies to invest in cutting-edge technologies that enhance passenger safety. Innovations like advanced driver monitoring systems, real-time GPS tracking, and emergency response features become industry norms, elevating the overall passenger experience. These features have been part of the measures that ride hailing companies have incorporated in their ecosystems in efforts to ensure both driver and passenger safety. Regulatory bodies can further encourage firms by offering rewards for adopting eco-friendly practices, promoting environmental sustainability alongside technological advancement.

Safety and Security:

Positive regulation in the ride-hailing industry establishes stringent standards for driver and vehicle screening, meticulously verifying driver qualifications, trustworthiness, and vehicle safety standards. This comprehensive approach fortifies passenger safety by ensuring that only qualified and dependable individuals operate within the ride-hailing ecosystem. As a result, passengers are imbued with a heightened sense of confidence in the services, knowing that they are entrusting their well-being to thoroughly vetted drivers and safe vehicles. This commitment to safety is not only a cornerstone of the industry but also a vital factor in fostering trust and continued growth within the ride-hailing sector.

Urban Mobility:

Ride-hailing services have emerged as catalysts for revolutionising urban mobility, ushering in a new era of transportation accessibility. The role of positive regulation in this transformation cannot be understated, as it acts as the driving force behind the seamless integration of ride-hailing with public transportation systems. By harmonising these services, positive regulation not only mitigates urban congestion but also elevates the overall mobility experience for residents. It fosters a cityscape where passengers can effortlessly transition between ride-hailing and public transit options, resulting in reduced traffic congestion and a more efficient, convenient, and eco-friendly mode of urban travel. This collaborative synergy, underpinned by regulatory measures, marks a significant stride toward creating sustainable, accessible, and interconnected urban environments that benefit communities at large.

Fair Competition:

Positive regulation plays a pivotal role in fostering an equitable and competitive landscape within the ride-hailing industry. By setting forth transparent rules and guidelines, regulatory measures ensure that all players, both established and emerging, operate on a level playing field. This equitable framework encourages healthy competition, compelling new entrants to vie for market share with innovative solutions and improved services. As a result, consumers benefit from a wide array of options and heightened service quality, while companies are incentivised to continually innovate and elevate their offerings. This collaborative environment, orchestrated by positive regulation, not only propels the industry forward but also ensures that customers receive the best possible experiences while promoting sustained growth and development within the ride-hailing sector.

Job Creation:

Positive regulation serves as a cornerstone in the transformation of Kenya's ride-hailing industry from an informal sector into a structured and legitimate one, generating a plethora of employment opportunities for drivers. By instituting clear and enforceable rules and guidelines, these regulatory measures not only legitimise the industry but also provide a stable source of income for numerous Kenyan workers. In this way, positive regulation not only bolsters job opportunities but also ensures that the workforce enjoys better protection and support, contributing substantially to economic stability and the individual well-being of countless members of the community.

Reduced Traffic and Emissions:

Positive regulation takes a proactive stance in promoting eco-friendly practices within the ride-hailing industry, particularly by fostering carpooling and shared rides. By incentivising these efficient transportation modes, regulatory measures significantly curtail the prevalence of single-occupancy vehicles on the roads. The tangible outcome is a substantial reduction in traffic congestion, alleviating the burden on urban road networks and enhancing overall mobility. Moreover, this concerted effort to reduce the number of vehicles in operation leads to lower emissions, a key contributor to environmental sustainability. By curbing pollution and traffic-related environmental impacts, positive regulation not only creates a more eco-conscious transportation ecosystem but also demonstrates the industry's commitment to addressing environmental concerns and its role in contributing to a greener, more sustainable future.

Economic Growth Stimulation:

The impact of the ride-hailing industry on Kenya's economy extends far beyond its core services, creating a ripple effect that fosters supplementary opportunities in sectors like vehicle maintenance, insurance, and payment solutions. Positive regulation is the driving force behind this economic expansion, acting as the catalyst that propels prosperity for Kenyan citizens across diverse backgrounds and professions. By nurturing an environment where these auxiliary industries can flourish, regulation not only enhances the economic landscape but also underscores its role in improving the lives and livelihoods of people throughout the nation.

Ultimately, the ride-hailing industry in Kenya transcends mere transportation; it represents a tapestry of progress, untapped potential, and shared prosperity. The embrace of positive regulation should not be viewed as an obstacle but as a guiding light towards a future that is safer, more sustainable, and economically flourishing for all. This is a pivotal moment where industry pioneers, regulatory bodies, and the public can unite to propel Kenya's ride-hailing revolution forward. It is an opportunity to weave together the threads of innovation, inclusivity, and economic growth, ensuring that the ride-hailing industry continues to be a beacon of transformation, benefitting every Kenyan.

Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar is the Head of Public Policy for East and Southern Africa, BOLT.





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