Kenya’s Ecobodaa To Launch Rent-to-Own Electric Motorcycles in Nairobi

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Electric mobility startup, Ecobodaa has disclosed plans to launch its rent-to-own electric motorcycles in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. Being the largest city in Kenya, Nairobi is home to over 200,000 motorcycles which outnumber buses and taxis, making motorcycles the most common means of transportation in the city and country at large.

The e-mobility company is reportedly setting up battery swap stations in Kenya’s largest ghetto, Kibera in preparation for its October launch. Ecobodaa has said it will deliver its first batch of electric motorcycles to already trained women riders.

As a strategy to launch and serve the mobile under-served, we have shortlisted, vetted, and trained women bodaboda riders in Kibera who will then benefit from our initial batch of Ecobodaas. We are proud to say that we have a product that we believe will start an e-mobility revolution in the most common mode of last mile transport in East Africa.

Kimosop Chepkoit, Ecobodaa CEO and Founder

Ecobodaa’s electric motorcycles are designed and assembled in Nairobi, Kenya. Nigeria’s MAX.ng, Rwanda’s Ampersand and Uganda’s Zembo are other eBike-hailing startups in Africa that assemble their electric motorcycles locally.

While that is a common factor, these companies run different operational models, with some more different than the others.

Ecobodaa and Zembo operate a rent-to-own model

Ecobodaa plans to work on a rent-to-own model in Kenya so that its riders can eventually own the electric-powered motorcycles. The motorcycles will be leased to the drivers at first, while the company receives payments on a daily or weekly basis from its riders through Safaricom’s M-Pesa.

“Our business model is unique since we not only provide the electric motorcycle to our riders, we also provide 100% financing for our riders.”

Ecobodaa’s CEO, Kimosop

Ecobodaa’s riders will be able to obtain ownership of the electric motorcycles after making the stipulated M-Pesa payments for a period of 18 months.

Zembo operates a similar model to Ecobodaa in Uganda. The startup first rents its electric motorcycles out to riders for up to 2 years. According to Zembo, the rider becomes the owner of the electric motorcycles when the 2-year period elapses.

Zembo motorcycle in Uganda

The e-mobility company runs a pay-as-you-go model such that riders remit an amount of their generated revenue from each ride till they gain ownership of the motorcycles.

MAX.ng and Ampersand offer a lease and purchase option

Having commenced operations in Nigeria’s Ogun state, MAX.ng leases its electric motorcycles to riders in Nigeria. Unlike Kenya’s Ecobodaa and Uganda’s Zembo, drivers are without the possibility of owning the bikes.

MAX.ng electric motorcycles

The riders who work for the company can only make use of the bikes while they are contracted. MAX charges a percentage of income generated on every ride.

Ampersand offers a more flexible model which allows riders in Uganda the option to either rent the electric motorcycles or buy them upfront without any extra cost.

Riders are also required to pay for a maintenance plan pre-designed by the company.

Battery swapping system

Ecobodaa, MAX.ng and Ampersand all operate a battery swapping system for their riders. Knowing that charging an electric motorcycle battery can take between 4 to 8 hours or more, the three e-mobility companies instead swap used up electric batteries in motorcycles with fully solar-charged ones for riders to avoid the time delay.

The battery swap usually only takes a few minutes.

Zembo, however, does not employ a battery swapping system. The mobility company instead operates a network of solar stations where the batteries of its electric motorcycles are charged.

The various business models employed by each mobility startup may be a consequence of their differing objectives in Africa’s largely untapped e-mobility market.


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