They’re unmissable. Everywhere you turn to in Lagos, it’s hard to miss the bright-coloured motorbikes that look distinctively different from the run of the mill motorcycles that have historically dotted roads in this city. Over the past two years, bike-hailing start-ups Max, Gokada and ORide have all become major players in transportation across Lagos as they aim to beat the city’s notorious traffic gridlocks.
But the disruption of transport modes in Africa is not limited to Lagos. Neither did it begin here. In August 2013, Uber opened its doors to Africa with an inaugural ride in Johannesburg that had ex-South Africa footballer Mark Fish as its first-ever passenger. Uber has since expanded to cities in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, with an eye on further growth on the continent. Estonian-owned Bolt, formerly Taxify, is also present in these countries in addition to Tanzania, and Uganda. There are low-levels of car ownership in much of sub-Saharan Africa, opening up a window of opportunity for these companies to thrive.
And beyond foreign-owned companies, there is a surge of locally-owned startups that have emerged in the mobility sector in the last few years. There’s been an emergence of specialized ride-hailing solutions from two-wheelers to auto-rickshaws and very recently, boats. We’ve also seen haulage tech startups attempting to bring efficiency to a legacy sector. Significant investment has gone into the sector in the last few months. Motor-bike taxis alone raised about $12 million just between May and June of 2019. Egypt-based bus sharing service, Swvl also raised US$42 million in June.
However, the sector is not only nascent in many parts of Africa, it is barely scratching its potential. For example, regulatory and infrastructure bottlenecks have limited two-wheelers from quickly expanding to the areas where they are most needed. In July, TechCabal exclusively reported that the Lagos state government was considering imposing a license fee on ride-hailing startups to operate in the state. In the same month and to the east, Addis Ababa mayor, Takele Uma, announced a ban on motorcycles, citing violent crimes. Yet poor road infrastructure and traffic congestion make them one of the most efficient forms of transportation in many regions. Micro-mobility startups (scooters & bicycles) are few and far in-between, leaving the opportunity for a whole new industry to emerge.
So what are we doing? On September 27, TechCabal is bringing together the most knowledgeable and influential mobility entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers to explore, discuss and define the potential of Africa’s mobility sector, the challenges and what the future holds.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Omobola Johnson, a former communications minister in Nigeria and Honorary Chairperson of the global Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI). Dr Johnson is a Senior Partner at TLcom Capital LLP, a venture capital firm investing since 1999 in tech and tech-enabled companies. It has invested in a number of Africa focused companies including Kobo360, a haulage tech company based in Nigeria. The venture capital firm participated in Kobo360’s US$6 million seed round.
- Obi Ozor is Co-founder and CEO at Kobo360. Kobo360 is a technology company focusing on logistics. Kobo360 powers the supply chain of more than two thousand businesses including Nestle, Maersk Line, Dangote, DHL Global Forwarding, UPS Supply Chain, Shoprite, Flour Mills and Jumia. Ozor was previously Operations Coordinator at Uber Nigeria between 2015 – 2016.
- Uche Ogboi recently got appointed as COO at Lori Systems. Lori Systems is a pan-African logistics company building the cutting-edge infrastructure for trucking in Africa. Before Lori, Ogboi was Principal Investments at Pan-Africa and tech-enabled venture capital firm, Echo VC.
- Osarumen Osamuyi is the Founder at The Subtext and Entrepreneur in Residence at Africa’s Talking. The Subtext is a publication that provides intelligent commentary about the business of innovation and the internet in Africa. Osamuyi’s essay about Motorcycle Taxis has become reference material for many in the ecosystem regarding how to think about the business.
- Oluwatoyin Oshinowo is the VP Product/Co-founder at FieldInsight, an organization that helps businesses in Africa get data from the field to manage and monitor their distribution assets smarter. Oluwatoyin is product management professional with 8 years experience and has a passion for product development within the Nigerian tech space. She has a Masters degree in Computer Systems Engineering and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Warwick.
- Emeka Ajene is Managing Director and Co-founder at Gozem, a transportation company focused on West & Central Africa. It started in November 2018 with ride-hailing services in Togo and has now expanded to Benin. Ajene was previously Sr. Manager, Nigeria Operations & Business Development at Uber and he has an MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
- Ridwan Olalere is the Director of Operations at ORide, a transportation service owned by OPay – one of Nigeria’s biggest mobile money platforms. In recent past, he has served as the Director of Payment Product at OPay. Before joining OPay, Mr Olalere worked as a Software Developer for a number of Nigerian startups. He holds a Degree in Science and Engineering from the Shenyang Institute of Aeronautical Engineering.
The townhall will afford attendees the opportunity to glean insight from speakers into the current makeup of the mobility sector and what the future holds for the industry in Africa. Newcomers to the sector and players in adjacent sectors will get an inside look at what the most influential startups in the ecosystem are up to. Smaller startups in this space will also get to hear from investors on what they value as they seek to fund ambitious companies. And for investors, it will be a rich gathering of the most innovative up and coming startups in the space showcasing their solutions.
And regulators will have the opportunity to speak with the biggest players and investors, directly sharing knowledge about their concerns, what they need for success and what will convince them to invest even more money in these sectors. As part of the activities leading up to the townhall, TechCabal will be hosting a Twitter Q&A with Ridwan Olalere of ORide on Wednesday, September 11 where users will get the opportunity to ask him whatever questions they have about the company and pretty much everything else. All questions should be sent in by 5 pm on Tuesday, September 10 to firstname.lastname@example.org