Ambitions Of A Hustler: The Grind Of Being An Uber Driver In Accra


Four weeks ago, I signed up to be an Uber driver in Accra, Ghana. It was something I wanted to experiment with. It was an experiment to get a behind the scenes look at Uber in Accra.

Now, four weeks later, 11+ hours of driving (excluding driving to the rider destination), 18 total trips, and one punctured tire later, I’m ready to give my personal opinion and review about moonlighting as an Uber driver in Accra.

Accra is the Uber Driver’s Invisible Enemy

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Accra is overrated. Photo credit: OMGVoice

I’m just going to put this out and say it: Accra is not all that great. Seriously, it’s overrated.

Look at the above photo. It looks like a nice road design right? But can you notice that long line of traffic?

That happens almost everyday. Traffic in Accra is insane and can sometimes be sporadic. Plus, most of the inner roads are filled with potholes and some drivers on the road are basically kamikaze drivers. It feels like I have to watch from all angles when you’re driving your car or else, some crazy might get your hit.

Oh, did I mention the insane traffic?

In Accra, you’re not only battling traffic and alternative routes, you’re battling with potholes, open gutters, and kamikaze trotro and taxi drivers. This is the situation that Uber drivers face when trying to pick up and drop riders.

The Grind Of An Uber Driver

Being an Uber driver, you’re going to have to fight the city. If you know Uber, you know that their fares are pretty low. You request a pickup, you get a ride, you get dropped off and you pay low fares.

That’s the side of the Uber rider. Now let me tell you about what the Uber driver goes through:

A driver gets a request, accepts the request from their location, and drives through whatever traffic is on that route on your way to the rider. On the way, the driver might have to deal with bad roads or traffic on the road which might slow down their drive time on the way to the rider.

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Uber drivers go through this on a constant basis

Sometimes the rider gets upset that the driver is not there on time because their Uber app says 5 minutes away. But the Uber app doesn’t factor in traffic like other places like the US or Europe and so that 5 minutes is actually 8 minutes with added traffic and bad roads.

Now, the Uber driver picks up the rider and starts the trip. The app says the rider’s location is 14 minutes away according to Google Maps. But guess what? There’s not entirely accurate because once again, it doesn’t factor in bad roads and traffic.

So, the Uber driver drops off the passenger, the app calculates the fare and it says the total is 10GHC.

10GHC is kind of gut wrenching. So what about the bad traffic? Or the crazy potholed filled roads which feel like they want to tear your car apart.

Nope! All that is not factored into the fare.

After collecting the 10GHC, the Uber driver gets another request. Maybe the driver will get lucky and get paid more. But unless surge pricing is in effect and the drop off location is far, it’s not likely.

It’s a grind folks. Nothing but a grind. Here’s a example of the grind:

Here’s a trip I did recently for a rider. Estimated time was 36 mins. This trip was done on a weekend so I didn’t encounter a lot of traffic

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It was a cash payment trip. When I tallied up what I was paid 50 GHC in cash. Here’s the breakdown:

This 46 min trip paid out 25.93 GHC in fares WITHOUT surge pricing. You add in Uber’s fees (25.09GHc – 12.50GH) and I’m left with 13.43 GHC

Now, when you factor in the surge pricing: Surge pricing added an extra 24.07GHC. So in total,  the total fare was 50GHC (25.93GHC+24.07GHC). You take out Uber’s fee and we’re have 37.50GHC

So in summary:

  • Regular fare: 25.93GHC
  • Regular fare – Uber fee: 13.43 GHC
  • Regular fare + Surge Pricing – Uber fee: 37.50 GHC

Since it was a cash payment, I got paid 50GHC but Uber dips into my account and takes out their fee, which was about 23 GHC.

So in all honesty, if surge pricing was not in effect, I’m getting paid about 13 – 15 GHC for a 46 min trip with Uber.

This is the reality Uber drivers face. Welcome to the grind….

Bad Uber Riders and Cash Payments

Who knew Ghanaians could be a**holes when it came to getting service?

Last week, I went to the Uber offices for an event called “Partner Appreciation“. That event basically turned into horror stories from Uber drivers.

Some stories included riders berating drivers for not being on time, riders trying to take advantage of Uber drivers to use them for extended periods of time, drivers complaining of the bad roads and riders not really knowing how price surging works and complaining about total fares.

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Uber drivers deal with potholes and bad roads and are not compensated for these situations

Some drivers also complained about riders not selecting the correct pick up locations. I actually had an incident where I was directed to one location where I couldn’t find the rider. I had to call the rider and rectify the problem and get the right location. Another rider also selected a pick up point and sent a request and then called me to tell me where his correct location was. Of course, they don’t factor in the time (and fuel) I have to drive around to get to their location.

Like I said: It’s a grind.

The Partner event was kind of eye opening. Thankfully, I’ve never had a bad rider or have one complain about my pick up time. But I have experienced bad roads and just last week, I got a punctured tire while on the way to pick up a rider. All that stress on my car cuts into my Uber fares. In other countries, I think the service works best because they don’t deal with some of the challenges like bad roads or crazy traffic.

Another thing that some Uber drivers in developed countries don’t have to deal with is cash payments.

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As an Uber driver, I’m not a fan of cash payments. Let me explain why:

When a rider requests for an Uber with the cash payment option, the driver is definitely going to owe Uber at the end of the day. Because the drivers don’t have to pay Uber the cash they collect, Uber automatically deducts the amount from the driver’s account.

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Uber dipping into my bank account for their fees

When I get paid cash, I’m more likely to spend it and not deposit it. If the money went straight into my account, I would feel it would be a better way to save.

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More Credit Card Payments Please….

I understand that because Ghana is a developing country, cash still rules the day but I would LOVE if Uber would push customers to use their cards more often than cash. That’s just my opinion.

The Driver Rating Is a Mind Trick

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The Uber driver rating is a good incentive for drivers to be on their best behavior and to take good care of their cars.

My driver rating is 4.85 (which is pretty good). But my rider rating is 5.0 (Because I’m awesome)

Let me tell why the Uber driver rating is important and why you should be giving drivers 5 stars for a good ride.

Uber policy says that drivers must maintain a rating of 4.5 stars. Ratings below that means that the driver is in danger of having their account suspended for a specific period of time. Drivers are aware of this and try their best to give riders their best ride possible.

So it’s a bit baffling that a rider might give a driver 3 or 4 stars because they don’t like the look of the driver’s car or the driver didn’t use their AC during the ride.

Once again, Drivers are battling Accra with all its traffic and roads. So it would be nice to rate them high to keep their motivation up.

I had a 5.0 star rating for about five trips. Then I had a 4 star rating. My rating dropped to 4.8.

I had no idea what I did wrong. I think maybe it was because I had a problem getting the rider’s location (Not my fault).

Not saying that riders can rate drivers what they want but it would help if they posted a review from the app which I doubt that they know how to do.

The Driver rating is something all drivers want to maintain. So they try their best to do all they can to make the rider and rides comfortable. It’s not easy.

Is It All Worth It?

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It is kind of disheartening to drive long distances in Accra and get paid low fares. In addition, your rider can give you a low star rating and you don’t know why.

Thankfully, surge pricing kind of cushion the drivers because they get paid extra.

But it doesn’t seem worth it in the end, especially as a side hustle.

Accra is still in the way. In developed countries, they don’t really deal with bad roads or crazy traffic. Besides, Uber drivers in those developed countries can check from their apps and get instant traffic updates.

Someone at the Uber partner event made a great point that the Uber model is best for those developed countries and hasn’t exactly been tailored to fit into the developing countries and the environment. I tend to agree with that point.

So all in all, this is what I’ve learnt from my 4 weeks of Uber driving:

  • Accra is your enemy. It will frustrate you with its traffic, bad roads and bad drivers
  • Uber doesn’t really factor in bad roads or heavy traffic when it comes to fares.
  • Riders seem to expect near perfect rides which is unfair when it comes to rating
  • Cash Payments are great for riders but drivers don’t really save much because they get cash in hand but get deductions from their accounts
  • The driver rating system is the Uber driver’s lifeline. The difference between a 4 star and 5 star is very important. Riders should really think about it.
  • Riders may not be fans of surge pricing but it’s helps to keep Uber drivers motivated to keep driving.

So that’s it. That’s my thoughts on my Uber driving experience. It’s a bit exhausting to be quite honest. Sitting in a car for hours driving back and forth really takes a toll on your body.

If you’re a pure driver and don’t have a side job, then driving with Uber isn’t bad because you will definitely get riders. When it comes to fares, that’s a different issue. But you will get paid because there will always be requests.

Will Taxify be a better option for drivers not satisfied with Uber? Hard to tell right now.

If you’re in Accra and still want to be an Uber driver, there’s nothing stopping you. Just be aware that it’s a grind. I think Taxi drivers are better off with Uber because they don’t have always drive around looking for passengers. But the price difference in fares might be a turn off.

If you’re an Uber rider, please be nice to the Uber drivers. It’s not easy and they’re also human beings too. A 5 star rating is a great motivator. You don’t have to give it when your driver is being bad but you can give it for a driver taking you from point A to point B.

Thanks for reading.

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5 thoughts on “Ambitions Of A Hustler: The Grind Of Being An Uber Driver In Accra

  1. Really insightful piece. Thanks for sharing. Would be very interesting to juxtaposition this against the experience of those who own cars, hire someone to drive and split the proceeds.

    1. From what I’ve heard, some companies/individuals use fleet services. They have cars in which they hire drivers to drive their cars, give them day and night shifts and give them a cut of the Uber fares plus a base salary. I think if you have cars and drivers, it works out.
      Don’t know how the drivers feel about it but at least they get paid

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