Uber Technologies is pinning its hopes on India, the Middle East and Africa for growth in the aftermath of mounting losses, which resulted in a plunge in its share prices.
Uber, which recently exited China and Southeast Asia, said although the company faces fierce competition in India, its profitability characteristics are improving in the country.
"If I look at Uber's growth over the next 10 years, it's going to be defined by markets like India, Africa, the Middle East more so than the developed markets such as the US and Europe," the company's Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, told reporters in New Delhi. "India is a fundamental part of Uber's growth going forward... it's a top 10 market for us."
However, the San Francisco-based company faces tough competition in India from home-grown ride-hailing service Ola, while in the food-delivery segment, the company faces a challenge from Zomato and Swiggy.
Of late, according to media reports, several bike-sharing startups in Indian cities are giving taxi-hailing services a run for their money, although stringent regulations still haunt the former. For instance, the Bengaluru-based bike-sharing startup Rapido's Android app is being used by more than 6 million monthly active users. Rapido is mainly targeting those passengers who prefer to travel short distances like to and from metro stations.
India's market for ride-hailing business is estimated at $7 billion a year, with Uber and Ola competing with each other for strengthening their market share. India constitutes 12 per cent of Uber's rides by operating in 40 cities and contributes about 2 per cent of the company's global revenue.
Khosrowshahi, who was in Delhi on Tuesday to unveil an updated version of Uber's app linking the Delhi Metro public transport system with its services, said he was focused on long-term prospects.
The company expects long-term growth opportunities for its ride and online food-delivery businesses in these markets, thanks to the large and growing urban population. Accordingly, Uber took a series of major steps to strengthen its position in India and the Middle East. Last year, the ride-hailing company said it would increase its investments in India, while in March this year, the company agreed to acquire its Dubai-based rival Careem.
But the company laid off 350 workers across the globe this month, part of its third round of lay-off this year, as it tries to map a route to profitability. The layoffs are expected to impact the company's businesses in India, including its online food-delivery unit - UberEats.
Uber shares lost 30 per cent of its value since the company's public offering in May this year.