In an unexpected announcement and move, China's e-hailing service, DiDi, has closed shop and left the South African market at short notice. On 7 April 2022 drivers who had signed up to DiDi were met with a message on the DiDi driver app informing them that the e-hailing company would be closing its business in South Africa on 8 April 2022, i.e. in 24 hours time.

The announcement comes almost exactly a year after DiDi officially opened its operations in South Africa in April 2021 after it was reported that the Chinese company is investing R1 billion to kick-off its operations in South Africa.

"Dear driver, we inform you that from April 08 the DiDi App will no longer be available* in your area. If you have questions, remember that our service channels are always available for you. *This serves as the requisite 14 days prior notice of the termination of your driver agreement entered into with DiDi Mobility Information Technology Pte Ltd, a company incorporated under the laws of Singapore, with registration number 201734804H."

The message that meets DiDi e-hailing service customers on the company's e-hailing app in South Africa.
📲 The message that meets DiDi e-hailing service customers on the company's e-hailing app in South Africa.

A DiDi spokesperson has confirmed that the DiDi app will not be available in all areas of South Africa from 8 April 2022.

According to DiDi, one of the main reasons they are pulling out of the South African market is due to the tough competition they have faced in Uber and Bolt, two of the more established e-hailing services in South Africa. When it launched in 2021, DiDi started by first operating in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape province before it introduced its service to Cape Town and cities in Gauteng.

DiDi charged its driver-partners a 13% commission, which was half of what Bolt and Uber were charging. DiDi Express charged a R15 base cost and a R10 per kilometer travel surcharge. The service competes with Uber's standard rate, which starts at R7.50 per kilometer, and Bolt's standard rate, which starts at R6.00 per kilometer.

Recently in 2022 DiDi drivers were also part of the countrywide strike in South Africa by e-hailing drivers demanding fair pricing among other demands. With such short notice, it is unclear if there is any action the drivers can take against the company especially considering that their agreements are signed with DiDi in Singapore.

— By Tefo Mohapi

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