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Uber withdraws petition to annul new ride-hailing regulations in Kenya

Uber has applied to withdraw a petition in Kenya challenging the new ride-hailing regulations that capped commissions at 18%, and required taxi apps operating to acquire licenses.

Coulson Harney, the law firm representing Uber, filed the notice of withdrawal, bringing to an end its push to have the new digital ride-hailing regulations annulled.

“Take notice that Uber B.V, the petitioner, gives notice and wholly withdraws its petition and the notice of motion application,” read the application, seen by TechCrunch, and which came days after Uber lowered its commission from 25% and got a license to operate in Kenya. Estonia's Bolt, Kenya's Little and Rwanda-based Yego have also received approval to operate in the East Africa's biggest economy.

Uber confirmed to TechCrunch that it had applied to withdraw the case, saying it remains committed to working closely with Kenya’s policymakers to help improve driver earnings, and ensure a great user experience.

“On 03 November 2022, Uber filed an application to withdraw the constitutional petition on the new transport network regulations published by the Ministry of Transport in June. Having received a transport network license from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has and considered several factors, we felt that the best course of action was to comply with the regulations, which includes the lowering of our service fee from 25% to 18%. We will continue to liaise with NTSA on the implementation of the regulations,” said an Uber spokesperson.

The new law by Kenya’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure gives NTSA the mandate to enforce it.

“We remain committed to Kenya and to creating economic opportunities for drivers and providing enhanced mobility for riders, as we have done since our launch in the market in 2015,” Uber said.

Uber filed the petition in September this year, urging Kenya’s high court to expunge the newly implemented regulations, adding that some sections were unconstitutional, discriminatory, discouraging to foreign investments and infringing on its rights and those of its riders and partners.

Uber protested Kenya’s decision to cap commissions charged per ride, and plans to reevaluate pricing structures, saying the move would dent its earnings. It insisted that Kenya is a free market, where ride-hailing companies have the right to negotiate commercial agreements without external influence. It also claimed that the regulations were made and gazetted without following due process and public participation.

The new law requires all platforms to have a physical presence in Kenya, and to obtain a license to operate. Uber had also faulted the condition that all ride-hailing companies must obtain a transport network license from NTSA to operate, saying that it was not a transport service but an app offering intermediation service.

It said the regulations are discriminatory because only persons with Kenyan Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) were allowed to obtain the mandatory license. Ride-hailing companies in Kenya, including Bolt and Little, are also required to share drivers’ and riders’ data upon request by the authority. Uber said that this would be a contravention of the new Data Protection Act.