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Looking at a Decade of Uber’s Operations in Africa

The ride-hailing service entered Johannesburg in August 2013 – one of its earliest forays outside the US – and now operates in dozens of cities across eight African countries. But if Uber plans to celebrate this milestone, it will do so under a cloud of controversy. Many of the ruthless practices highlighted in last year’s explosive leak, dubbed the Uber files, were honed in African markets in particular. The documents revealed how Uber forced its way into economies while sometimes ignoring local laws. Uber spokespeople have since claimed that the company culture has changed under new leadership. But the Uber files highlighted how successful labour platforms have been at interweaving themselves from afar into vital public services and infrastructure in the global south, selling a vision of tech-driven development while paying scant attention to local needs, conditions and regulations.