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© Reuters. Adetayo Bamiduro Co-founder/CEO of Max.ng explains his firm operations throughout an interview with Reuters in Lago

By Alexis Akwagyiram

LAGOS (Reuters) – Bike taxi firms are increasing in West Africa with backing from traders betting that the meteoric rise of two-wheeled taxi corporations in Asia might be replicated in among the quickest rising international locations on the planet.

4 bike taxi corporations at the moment are battling it out on the streets of Nigeria’s industrial capital Lagos and the oldest, Nigerian bike taxi agency max.ng, is planning to launch in Ghana and Ivory Coast this 12 months, in addition to a fourth Nigerian metropolis.

Whereas casual bike taxis have been round in Africa for years, the brand new firms are hoping to win market share by providing educated, accountable drivers and the comfort of reserving rides by means of a cellular app.

As in Asia, the businesses are additionally seeking to flip their ride-hailing apps into one-stop cellular outlets providing a bunch of companies from e-payments to deliveries to insurance coverage – the form of technique that reworked Indonesia’s Go-Jek right into a $10 billion firm in lower than a decade.

Max.ng co-founder Adetayo Bamiduro mentioned its enlargement can be funded by a latest funding spherical that raised $5 million-$7 million and that it was concentrating on an collected complete of two million rides by the center of 2020, up from 200,000 by Might.

The corporate began out as a bike supply service in 2015 in Lagos and added an app for ride-hailing in 2017, in addition to credit score amenities for would-be drivers to lease new bikes and pay for them over time.

“What we have accomplished is to take a look at the market in Nigeria and throughout the area and say ‘what items are lacking?’: monetary infrastructure for mobility would not exist, ride-hailing expertise for two-wheeled and three-wheeled mobility would not exist,” Bamiduro instructed Reuters.

Africa presents large potential for bike ride-hailing corporations as a consequence of low private automotive possession, quickly increasing populations and an absence of environment friendly mass transport techniques in fast-growing cities which might be clogged with vehicles.

BIG OPPORTUNITY

Generally known as okadas in Nigeria and Ghana and boda bodas in East Africa, casual motorcycle taxis are a part of the African transportation material. In Nigeria alone, there are an estimated eight million okada drivers, in line with max.ng and rival Gokada.

Nigeria has Africa’s largest financial system and largest inhabitants whereas Ghana and Ivory Coast are two of the world’s quickest rising economies, in line with the Worldwide Financial Fund.

Whereas the motorcycle taxi corporations in West Africa are small now, traders hope some can replicate the success of the Asian ride-hailing unicorns.

“Go-Jek confirmed what might be achieved in a market like Indonesia, then the Uber (NYSE:) and Lyft (NASDAQ:) IPOs led to a worldwide curiosity in mobility,” mentioned Aubrey Hruby, co-founder of Tofino Capital, which invests in rising market tech corporations.

“Individuals are mobility they usually’re trying on the subsequent massive alternative,” Hruby mentioned.

Bamiduro declined to call the traders in max.ng’s newest funding spherical, however mentioned two had additionally invested in Singapore’s Seize which, like Go-Jek, expanded rapidly due to shoppers utilizing smartphones to buy, commute and make funds.

Moreover max.ng, the opposite three firms providing motorcycle taxis in Lagos are Gokada, SafeBoda, which began out within the East African, and ORide.

Gokada is funded by U.S. and Gulf funding and enterprise capital funds whereas SafeBoda counts Go-Jek and Allianz (DE:) amongst its backers.

When the German insurance coverage large’s Alliance X digital division introduced its funding in SafeBoda in Might, it mentioned the agency had substantial progress potential with scope for growing monetary companies and insurance coverage merchandise.

Based in Uganda in 2015, SafeBoda launched in Kenya final 12 months. Babajide Duroshola, who heads its Nigeria operations, instructed Reuters the West African nation’s inhabitants of about 190 million made it interesting.

By comparability, about 120 million folks stay within the East African Neighborhood, which is made up of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

ORide, the newest motorcycle ride-hailing app to enter the Lagos market, is a part of OPay by which Norwegian software program agency Opera has an fairness curiosity.

The corporate instructed Reuters it hopes ORide will assist each its Opera net browser and OPay increase their attain into new companies.

E-WALLETS

The concept of reserving a bike taxi by means of an organization that has educated drivers and offers passengers with a helmet appeals to some commuters in Lagos.

Engineer Dayo Omolosho mentioned he booked a Gokada rider along with his cell phone after his automotive broke down within the Victoria Island enterprise district, partly as a result of he wished to really feel safer.

“Everyone needs sooner motion in Lagos however we’re nonetheless afraid of the traditional okada. You see some folks already drunk, they’re already excessive, so you’ll be able to’t management them,” he mentioned, including that riders working for firms have been educated and are accountable by means of a scores and complaints system.

Okadas had been so closely criticized for unpredictable driving and accidents that in 2012, Lagos banned bikes with a cylinder capability beneath 200cc from utilizing main roads or the bridges that criss-cross town constructed round a lagoon.

That was a blow to the casual sector the place most bikes are about 100cc. However max.ng and Gokada purchased fleets of 200cc motorbikes that met authorized necessities.

Gokada launched in Lagos in January 2018 and its shiny inexperienced motorbikes and helmets have grow to be a fixture on town’s streets.

Founder Fahim Saleh, who arrange bike taxi agency Pathao in Bangladesh in 2013, mentioned the corporate was planning to launch companies within the northern Nigerian metropolis of Kano and southern oil hub Port Harcourt by the top of this 12 months.

He instructed Reuters the enlargement into new cities, together with restore facilities and rider coaching colleges, will likely be funded with among the $5 million it raised this 12 months. Gokada then plans to start out rolling out different companies.

“Throughout the subsequent couple of months we’ll begin growing a pockets that may let you pay for rides,” he mentioned. “We need to be in all types of transport. And in addition meals, and companies – a hairdresser delivered to your door, or a masseuse.”