Freight logistics startup, Kobo360 has officially launched in Kenya after 5 months of beta operations in the country. The startup currently has access to more than 3,000 trucks and drivers in Kenya and is serving millers including Bakhresa Group, Rafiki Millers and McNeel Millers. Kobo360 connects cargo owners with freight trucks through its digital logistics platform, making it easy for them to get their goods picked up and delivered to the required location.
The announcement follows Kobo360’s latest funding round of US$30 million which it said will enable it to add 25,000 drivers to its platform thereby taking advantage of the newly minted African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). It also announced that it was planning to expand into 10 new African countries by the end of 2020. Kobo360 currently has over 10,000 drivers and trucks and it is now present in four countries; Togo, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria where it originally launched in 2017.
Kobo360’s new regional office in Kenya, the first in East Africa, will be led by Kagure Wamunyu who joined the company as CEO, Africa Region in March 2019. Wamunyu was Country Head – Kenya at Uber and Senior Director Strategy, East Africa at Bridge International Academies just before joining Kobo360.
The landscape is getting heated
Kobo360 is launching in Kenya at a time when the country is gradually becoming a hotbed for freight logistics startups. It faces competition from Lori Systems, arguably the oldest startup in the freight logistics subsector and until recently Sendy Logistics which just launched its own freight services. All three startups are looking to get a slice of the volume of goods handled at the Port of Mombassa estimated at 13 million tonnes a year and said to be the busiest in east Africa.
Lori Systems, founded 2016 in Kenya, appointed Nigerian Uche Ogboi as COO and Efayomi Carr as Head of Strategic Finance in July 2019 to lead its expansion across Africa. The startup has attracted investor interest with some undisclosed rounds and according to the company, “Lori is in the final stages of announcing a significant round of funding to accelerate growth.” As of October 2018, it was operating in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan. Lori reportedly got a deal with the Kenyan government to solve last-mile solutions around the national railroad.
On the other hand, Sendy Logistics, another Kenyan company which originally launched in 2014 to provide on-demand door-to-door package delivery services, just added freight services to its platform. The startup says it started piloting the service in January 2019 and that it was launching it in response to requests from its existing customers. Sendy has raised at least $5.5 million to date and presently handles the delivery needs of more than 5,000 businesses. It is hoping that its new freight service will enable it to double the number.
The freight logistics industry is nascent albeit very promising given its rapid growth – its major players are on average three (3) years old.
Its future, though currently unclear, will depend on how startups differentiate themselves and how they navigate or take advantage of the AfCTA agreement. But the subsector is in primetime as investors now have their eyes on the transport and logistics sector.