Slowly but surely, we are getting there. We recently shared Kenyan startup GreenSpoon’s move to embrace electric delivery vans and ABInBev’s South African Breweries’ addition of the Mitsubishi Fuso eCanter to its fleet. Well, now, on our travels to Botswana, we came across MyFoodness, which has been using electric scooters on its delivery routes since 2018.
MyFoodness is your typical delivery service startup from which one can order a variety of items — fruit & veg boxes, food & drinks, general groceries, pharmacy orders, and more — via the company’s app. Electric scooters for deliveries make perfect sense in a small city like Botswana’s capital Gaborone. Riders can really sweat out the range of these electric scooters with frequent short trips across the city.
The electric scooters are from Chinese manufacturer Yadea, which is on Hong Kong’s stock exchange. Yadea has an annual production capacity of over 6.7 million vehicles and sells over 5 million units annually. For years, Chinese manufacturers have been selling tens of millions of these electric scooters across China. It’s good we are starting to see these in Africa. A lot of young entrepreneurs in Africa are getting into the delivery business, with many startups popping up, such as Freshinabox and Munch, that could make more use of electric delivery vehicles.
Online shopping is still very much in its nascent phase in this part of the world. As the industry grows and becomes very competitive, we hope more and more delivery companies start looking into switching to electric vehicles. A deep dive by fleet managers into the operational efficiencies to be gained by operators switching to electric vehicles should spur adoption in this industry. The unit economics should be clear for them to make the switch. Charging up at around 10 cents/kWh in most of these East and Southern African States makes this a very appealing proposition compared with fueling up at over $1 per liter of petrol.
There is certainly a large addressable market in this segment. Traditionally in this part of the world, fossil fuel powered motorcycles have been used extensively for delivering letters, cheques, and small packages. From pharmacies delivering prescription drugs, clinical laboratories delivering blood samples and test results to doctors and hospitals, to the usual courier companies, fossil fueled motorcycles have been predominant.
A lot of these electric scooters come with lithium-ion battery packs ranging from 1 kWh to 2 kWh of usable energy and ranges from about 45 km to 70 km (30–45 miles) per charge. Some do come with the option of two battery packs to extend the range beyond 100 km (62 miles) per charge. So, a full charge for only 20 cents? That sounds like a good enabler on the journey to mass adoption in the near future.