A Didi official confirmed the closure to TechCrunch but did not divulge the reasons for pulling the plug.
“We have made the difficult decision to end our operation in South Africa from April 8. Our aim has been to ensure a smooth transition for all and would like to take this opportunity to thank our employees, drivers, riders and partners for the kindness and support shown to DiDi,” a Didi spokesperson said.
Didi’s launch in South Africa last year had been expected to provide new competition to Uber and Bolt, the dominant ride-hailing companies in that region and across Africa. Its take-off, however, didn’t go as anticipated.
Didi hinted that its departure is expected to leave resources for more promising markets like Egypt, where it launched in the last quarter of 2021. Reports indicate that it is exploring expanding to Nigeria too.
“We have re-evaluated where we can make the most positive impact in the short-term and are focusing on developing even deeper capabilities in other existing markets,” the spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Didi’s exit comes at a time when taxi drivers in South Africa are calling for the regulation of the sector citing exploitation and poor work conditions. Select drivers that recently went on strike also cited reduced earnings given the rising fuel prices and the “high commissions” charged by the ride-hailing firms.
As Didi leaves, Uber, which launched in South Africa in 2013, has been on an aggressive expansion drive doubling its presence to over 40 cities in the last year alone. Bolt, which entered SA in 2015, recently expanded its green options, shortly after introducing a food delivery option in the country last year.