Country Manager at OPay, Iniabasi Akpan, has described the plan by the Lagos state government to effect an N25 million annual licensing fee for bike hailing startups to operate in the state as good.
Akpan made his thought known in response to a question about the recent decision by the Lagos State Government to put a license fee of 25 million on the new bike-hailing companies. The question was asked during a video interview session with Businessday online that was posted on Instagram today.
I think it is a good thing. Hmm, we anticipated this because I mean if you are gonna also get serious players into the market, then you need to have people who are willing, you know, pay what it costs to run the business.– Country Manager at OPay, Iniabasi Akpan
You can watch the video interview here:
The question follows recent outrage on social media over the government’s consideration of an N25 million licensing fee (about $70,000). This fee would be paid annually by bike hailing companies per 1,000 bikes with an additional N30,000 for each new rider after the 1,000th bike.
In our recent #streettech series, we discovered that riders of popular bike-hailing companies like Opay have been under intense pressure to pay dues to national unions of the traditional players. Notable among them is the NAMORA, MOALS and NURTW coupled with some state task force teams.
The first popular video online showed an Opay rider being harassed in the Ojota area of Lagos. Our report indicated that the harassment had spread to other areas, notably Boundary in Ajegunle, Egbeda/Akowonjo, Costain and the Ijora/Ojuelegba/CMS route.
Why would the Opay boss see this as a Good Development?
One possible reason is that Opay is in a good financial position to meet this and many other financial obligations above what other players can possibly afford.
Recall that the parent company, Opera raised $50 million about two weeks ago in a funding round led by Chinese VC investors Sequoia China, IDG Capital, and Source Code Capital.
OPay indicated then that it plans to use the generated capital to primarily grow and strengthen its digital finance business in Nigeria while boosting the commercial growth of other Opera ventures like ORide (motorcycle ride-hailing app) and OFood delivery service.
An indication of this capacity, OPay has over 20,000 agents in less than one year of operation in Nigeria. Its massive promotional discounts over the last few months demonstrate the commitment of huge sums to marketing efforts.
As it stands, the Lagos State Government is yet to respond officially to the development. But, a couple of renowned individuals in the industry have made their voices known on the matter.
Perhaps this development may turn the tides of the discussion. We cannot wait for the outcome of the story.
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