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Meet Four On-Demand Motorcycle Startups Battling Each Other For Market Dominance in Nigeria

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Motorcycle popularly referred to as ‘Okada’ in Lagos, Nigeria has become one of the life-saving modes of transportation for the over 20 million inhabitants of the city. The reason for this is not farfetched-over 8 million people travel to work each day on the 9,100 roads and expressways available-which are not even enough for daily commute. Hence, there is bound to be nerve-racking traffic.

Consequently, motorcyclists are cashing in on this to earn money by moving Lagosians to their various destinations quicker, faster and on time.

The problem with commuting around Lagos on the regular ‘Okada’

Okadas are unregulated in Lagos state. Anyone can simply wake up in the morning with little or no training, hop on these two-wheeled bikes and start ferrying passengers from point A to Point B. They do not use a helmet, they over speed and they disobey traffic rules. Ultimately, they are prone to fatal and deadly accidents.

Uber has shown the way

Before the entry of Uber, you have to flag down a taxi whose driver would bill you an inflated fare. In fact, there are no metrics or parameters for the billing. Add this to their rickety vehicle, then you know that their days are numbered.

Then, Uber came on board. As a result, you can now sit in the comfort of your bedroom, request a ride, the driver will drive down to your home, pick you and off you go. It is seamless. Today, Uber has over 9,000 active driver-partners in Nigeria and no fewer than 267,000 monthly riders.

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On-demand Motorcycles startups are following in the footsteps of Uber

Since ride-hailing worked for Uber, the same modus operandi is being used for motorcycles and perhaps in the future, tricycles. With the regular okada fast becoming a ‘nuisance’ in Lagos; on-demand motorcycles are fast gathering momentum and perhaps will one day force the regular bike guys to abandon the road.

Let’s now look at some of the on-demand motorcycle startups in Nigeria presently battling each other for market share and dominance.

1. MaxOkada-Nigeria’s first on-demand motorcycle startup

MaxOkada, Nigeria’s first on-demand motorcycle startup, is the brainchild of Metro Africa Express, the urban logistic firm that also runs MaxNG. MaxNG was founded in 2015 by two MIT Alumni, Adetayo Bamiduro and Chinedu Azodoh while MaxOkada made its debut in July 2017.

It was initially called MaxGo as in go sharp sharp. MaxOkada says its two-wheeled tax services “save commuters an estimate of 6 hours daily and 180 hours a month usually spent in traffic by providing access to safe, reliable and affordable moto-taxi transport just from the click of a button on their mobile devices.”

2. Gokada-Their unique green helmet has become a regular sight around Lagos

Gokada was founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh, a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle, and car transportation company. This means Saleh has solid experience to help him successfully run Gokada in Lagos. Indeed that experience seems to be working as Gokada appears to be dominating the two-wheeled taxi service business.

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This is perhaps due to being innovative and deploying technology to improve its product. Their strategy appears to be bearing fruits and this has enabled them to raise $5.3 million funding round led by Rise Capital. Gokada will use the financing to increase its fleet and ride volume while developing a network to offer goods and services to its drivers. “We’re going to start a Gokada club in each of the cities with a restaurant where drivers can relax, and we’ll experiment with a Gokada Shop, where drivers can get things they need on a regular basis, such as plantains, yams, and rice,” Fahim Saleh said. Clearly, MaxOkada needs to up their game!

3. SafeBoda-Bringing its Ugandan experience to Nigeria

SafeBoda is bringing its Ugandan experience to Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. After conquering East Africa, Will they be able to vanquish the on-demand motorcycle market in Nigeria? To show you that investors are confident about the ambitions and plans of SafeBoda, they raised undisclosed Series B round co-led by Go Ventures an investment unit of GoJek, a transportation network company and logistics startup company based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

This means it has years of expertise in the bag and with the backing of its investors, the startup has its destiny in its hands. It was founded in Uganda in 2014 by Ricky Thomson. If MaxOkada needs to up their game, we say Gokada beware of SafeBoda.

4. ORide-Owned by Opera Mini which has a wall chest to make anything possible.

Opera Software AS, best known for its mobile browser, owns ORide. Opera Software AS is now diversifying as it aims to become a full-fledged digital service business. It recently launched OPay, which is a seamless mobile money service and just a few days ago, it unveiled ORide. Although it is a relatively new player in the motorcycle hailing game, it sure has a wall chest to make ‘anything possible.’

The business of motorcycle ride-hailing service is perhaps the next big thing in Nigeria. From the outlook, more players are definitely coming which will no doubt drive down prices. If prices are relatively affordable and safety is not jeopardised, then motorcycle ride-hailing companies should be smiling to the bank.

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