Innovators in Sub-Saharan Africa shake up Mobility
Despite its troubles - wars, political upheavals, civil unrest and more than a fair share of natural disasters - sub-saharan Africa is teaming with innovation. Although economic growth may have stalled, innovations in agriculture, industry and energy continue to thrive.
The spirit and appetite from Africans to solve their own problems and leapfrog many of the stages more developed countries have gone through, particularly in terms of adopting new technologies, is palpable even from afar.
Innovators with vision, temerity and stamina are coming forward and staking their claim to make a positive difference to citizen’s lives, while also doing their bit to save the planet and they’re making a success of it. They are also doing it with little in the way of the funding and support companies in developed countries enjoy.
Electric mobility for all
One such entrepreneur is Yacine Fylla, founder of Mopepe Solutions, a multiple service company offering (among other solutions) a fleet of electric vehicles available for rental in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).
An ex-athlete, Fylla isn’t short on focus or resilience, which is just as well as he plans to “democratise electric vehicles in the DRC” (this he stated to Journalist Jean Marie Takouleu, who interviewed him for Afrik 21).
Aiming to provide solutions for sustainable development and ecological transition in Africa, one of the first services to be launched is Eco Car, an Uber-type service based on electric vehicles supported by a network of recharging stations. This service is being launched in the coming weeks with an app that passengers can use to book and pay using “mobile money” because (as Fylla states) his company is committed to financial inclusion and very few citizens in subsaharan Africa have access to bank accounts but many have mobile phones and are tech-savvy.
Stabilising the unstable electricity supply
However, in DRC (as elsewhere in Africa), electricity is an unstable commodity. Although Kinshasa is largely powered using hydroelectricity, production capacities are low and distribution networks poorly maintained. Africa contributes less than 4% to global greenhouse gas emissions and yet is one of the world’s continent most affected by climate change. Fylla wants to (in his own words) “take the bull by the horns” and do something to prepare for ecological transition. As sunshine is abundant in Africa, he plans to harness that and use solar to recharge his electric vehicles.
In the meantime, Mopepe has partnered with Rawbank and Vodacom to install charging stations at their branches. This is the second of Mopepe’s solutions: Mopepe Refill. The aim is to have between 500 and 1000 charging points available by 2025.
Electric mobility, offered on a rental or subscription basis, driven by solar recharging makes sense in Subsaharan Africa where sunshine is plentiful but vehicle maintenance workshops are not. Another element in short supply, however, is investment and funding for startup mobility innovators like Fylla. Perhaps that will change as increasingly more people like him stand up to claim their space in Africa’s innovation arena.
Image of Yacine Fylla, founder of Mopepe, courtesy of Mopepe Solutions.