KENYA – SWVL, a bus transportation network company, has appointed former Uber Kenya Country Manager Dip Patel to lead its local operations, tapping into his experience in the segment.

Dip takes over ranks from Sivachi Muleji who resigned from the role at the end of January having served on the top seat since May 2019.

Mr Patel joins the company at a time it is locked in licensing row with the transport regulation in a spat that has threated to derail SWVL Kenya operations.

The firm says it will tap into Mr Patel’s experience gained at Uber to replicate the taxi hailing model in the matatu sector.

Confirming the appointment, SWVL co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mostafa Kandil said Dip is expected to lead the company into success in an increasingly growing urban commuter market.

“We see the Kenyan commuter market as one with great potential and with a gap that we are working to fill using technology,” said Mostafa.

“We, therefore, needed to carefully select an individual with extensive experience in the Kenyan tech space and a passion for impacting the daily lives of commuters. I am sure we have made the right choice.”

Until his appointment, Dip was the Head of Growth at Apollo Agriculture- a Kenyan technology company that helps small-scale farmers maximize earnings.

Dip served as Uber Kenya Country Manager between October 2017 and June 2018 having first ventured as the company’s Marketing Manager for East Africa in December 2015.

He holds a master’s degree in Accounting from the London School of Economics and an economics bachelor’s from the Vassar College.

SWVL offers point-to-point shuttle services with users booking trips through mobile phones. They are then notified of the nearest pick-up point, price and time to board. It is popular with the Nairobi’s working-class keen to avoid the matatu chaos.

In February this year, the firm added long-distance trips to Naivasha, Kisumu, Nakuru, Meru and Embu as well as multiple routes in Nairobi and outskirts. It already has 55 connections.

In 2019, it secured KSh1.5 billion (US$15m) funding to finance an aggressive route expansion plan in Nairobi.

The start-up, which was founded by Egyptian operators, had set a target to grow its network to 500 routes served by 1,000 buses. But its expansion has faced regulatory headwinds.

In 2019, the transport regulator ordered it to cease operations over a PSV licence.