7 May 19

African startups to lead African mobility

As on other continents, new mobility modes such as ridehailing and MaaS are disrupting the traditional mobility market in Africa. Moreover, startups are often behind the driving wheel of disruption. 

In Africa, Uber and Taxify are the big players that dominate the ridehailing market, yet they are not the only ones. Local African mobility startups are conquering their place behind the wheel as well. On the Africa Startup Summit in Rwanda in February 2019, for instance, one of the ten Live Pitching startups was a MaaS startup company. Moja Ride from Ivory Coast offers a MaaS platform which integrates local payment solutions and modes of transportation, so drivers can find, book, and pay for local transport. 

While the Summit selected only 10, of which one is mobility-related, the African startup scene is growing, as demonstrated by the 100+ applications the jury received. 

Ridesharing, time saving

Especially the concept of shared rides is being explored – in the shadow of the Big Ridehailers – in order to offer more locally-relevant and affordable solutions. 

Jumpin Rides (South Africa), a P2P ridesharing platform, for instance, has built a community of more than 11,000 users since it launched in August 2016, with over 6,000 requested rides. Jumpin Rides connects private car owners with passengers who are already heading in the same way. Although there is no direct profit for the carpool drivers in this system, they can cut costs by filling the empty seats in their car and sharing the fuel costs. As a result, the requested ride is cheaper for rider and driver. 

The service is welcomed in South Africa where the big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg are crowded, traffic is congested and public transportat is lacking, which turns the daily commute into a daily loss of time.

Hence, the major gain of Jumpin Rides is not the financial benefit – although there is a small one – but it is the indirect gain of saving time – by relieving congestion – and addressing air pollution.

Another startup in the ridesharing scene that takes a different approach than Uber is the startup Jekalo (Nigeria). Whereas Uber drivers are only allowed to set their own destination at a fixed rate (twice daily), the drivers of Jekalo can choose any time of the day to set their own destination, making it possible to share rides like Jumpin Rides. 

Working while commuting 

Yet, in the long-term solving traffic congestion can be helped by decent data collection, analysis and data-based development of the transportation system. GoMetro (South Africa) for instance, is specialised in designing and implementing intelligent transport systems and smart mobility. On the one hand their GoMetro Pro app collects traffic related data of the vehicle, which can be used for transport planning by city authorities. On the other hand, there is GoMetro Flx, a mobility platform which collects information on all possible routings and has the possibility to order a Flx shuttle and be driven to work, rather than to drive themselves. Since GoMetro targets corporate customers, the Flx riders can work on the way home, rather than losing valuable time while being stuck in traffic congestion. Providing information in one app and an alternative in the other, GoMetro optimises the commuting time of its customers. 

Hence, offering local shared mobility services, the above-mentioned African startups are enhancing commuting while decreasing traffic congestion, killing two birds with one stone and showing the African mobility startup scene is ready for the future.  

Authored by: Fien Van den steen