On Friday, September 27, 2019 we convened our largest townhall yet. Largest, not because it focused on mobility and logistics in Africa, which you’d agree is fast replacing fintech in the pace of growth and innovation in the sector, but also the line up of speakers and programming which moved away from what we’ve done with our past townhalls.
In his keynote presentation, our CEO, Tomiwa Aladekomo, said mobility startups in Africa have raised US$293.5 million since 2016. Since 2013, when Uber launched operations in Africa, the mobility sector has since expanded into two-wheelers and boats. The opportunities are immense and the aim of the townhall was to discover where these opportunities are and how stakeholders can tap into them to grow the sector.
The first panel session moderated by Editor-at-Large, Bankole Oluwafemi, focused on the logistics sector with key players in the space as panellists. They were Obi Ozor of Kobo360, Uche Ogboi of Lori Systems and Toyin Oshinowo of FieldInsight. Efficient distribution and supply chain operations are the bane of any sector. Goods always have to move from where they are manufactured or assembled to the hands of those who need them. In Africa, this remains a huge challenge especially with infrastructural and regulatory challenges for startups who are attempting to surmount the challenges of poor or inefficient infrastructure. The first panel discussed this and more in a very engaging session. Find out more here.
Lori Systems officially announced its entry into the Nigeria market on the sidelines of the townhall. Lori Systems launched in Kenya in 2016 and Uche Ogboi who is the company’s Chief Operating Officer is spearheading its Nigeria expansion. Another reason why you should not miss the next one in November. Interesting conversations happen here.
The next panel session was with the two-wheelers. You sure have seen them around in Lagos more often than not. Chinedu Azodo of MAX.ng, Ridwan Olalere of ORide and Emeka Ajene of Gozem which is based in Togo and expanding gradually across francophone Africa. Moderated by our CEO, Tomiwa Aladekomo, the panellists discussed their operations in Lagos, regulatory issues which have trailed the two-wheelers intensely of late as well as value-added services for customer retention among others. Some takeaways:
- MAX.ng is serious about launching its electric bikes
- Financial services are an attractive added service for customers (both MAX.ng and Gozem say they are looking at incorporating fintech products into their services sooner than later)
- There’s more here.
Uber West Africa’s General Manager, Lola Kassim was in conversation with journalist Aisha Salaudeen to discuss Uber’s experience entering different markets and its most recent launch in Edo State as a sample of regulators encouraging innovation.
In an investor panel moderated by Osarumen Osamuyi of The Subtext, Senior Partner Omobola Johnson of TLcom Capital, Nnena Nkongho, Principal at DiGAME and Taiwo Ketiku, VP Investments at Echo VC Partners discussed the investment side of the mobility sector including their specific investment theses and what they look for before channelling funds into an African mobility/logistics focused startup. Important in this discussion was the role of regulatory policies and how critical stable policies can be for startups.
We had three regulators on hand to discuss some of these regulatory challenges on the last panel session of the day. Moderated by Femi Longe, Co-founder Co-Creation Hub, the panel had Damilola Emmanuel of Lagos Waterways, Titi Akinsanmi from Google, and Kemi Amure of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). The key takeaway for startups: a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape of the sector you are attempting to disrupt with your technology solution is a must. This is actually sector agnostic. The government seems to be working to make the environment more efficient for the operators and we all are looking to see how that goes in the near future.
In between all these panel sessions, we had a workshop about motorcycle taxis anchored by Osarumen Osamuyi and based off this article on the same subject; Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, Linguist & Activist for African Languages and Technology spoke about how languages are powering mobility across Africa in a lightning talk; products showcase by Lifebank, Awabike, Verify Me Nigeria, FieldInsight as well as legal clinics organised by Odujinrin & Adefulu law firm.
Our next townhall is happening in November and we intend it to be even more impactful than this one. It will be focused on edtech and the future of work and again, we are bringing together key stakeholders in the sector to discuss how technology can help us better prepare for the knowledge and skill demands of the future.
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