Asambe, a pan-African electric scooter & bicycle sharing and guided tour service company, launched its platform in Harare, Zimbabwe last week after a successful 6-month pilot. Asambe is Zulu for “let’s go.” The guided tour service is targeted at high value, medium volume tourist destinations such as Victoria Falls. The public transport landscape in Zimbabwe is very informal, inefficient and serviced by a mix of operators whose operations are very fragmented. Asambe wants to help people get around using a fast, flexible, convenient, clean, and affordable manner instead of getting lost in a complex informal public transport system. Asambe also wants to give travelers another option other than paying exorbitant taxi rates in these places.
Asambe’s value proposition is heavily focused on the customer experience and it wants to offer visitors a fun way to explore a town or city. Part of this experience includes guided culinary, culture, and adventure tours which can be booked and paid for on its website and/or TripAdvisor Experiences. Asambe has incorporated a hints and tips feature which is a combination of in-app messaging of local information and insights and map annotations which display exciting attractions within the proximity of a user’s location.
Asambe’s launch had been scheduled for earlier this year but it had to hold off the launch due the Covid-19 pandemic. This delay resulted in the company starting off with a primary focus on last mile delivery services. As countries begin to open and as tourism begins to recover, Asambe will shift its focus back to vehicle sharing and guided tours. The delivery service will become secondary. Asambe are starting with two types of vehicles, electric scooters from Super Soco and electric bicycles from Namibia’s Ebikes4Africa. The electric scooter has a 1.8 kWh battery pack, a top speed of 65 km/h, and a range of 70 km. The battery can be charged in about 6 hours. The electric bicycles have a 0.84 Wh battery pack, a top speed of 40 km/h, a range of 60 km, and can be charged in about 5 hours. The Asambe electric bicycle actually tells a good story of a southern African collaboration, which is great for regional trade between Zimbabwe and Namibia. This kind of collaboration will help create much needed jobs in this part of the world.
On the last mile delivery front, Asambe has since entered into 3rd-party last mile delivery agreements with:
- Prime Health Medical Diagnostic Lab (Pvt) Ltd, Zimbabwe (medical supplies)
- Munch, Zimbabwe (food delivery)
- UberEats, South Africa (food delivery)
- Health Data Hug/Baines Avenue Retail Pharmacy
The pharmaceutical and medical supplies segment actually provides an avenue to tap in to a large market with huge potential. Service providers in this industry use ICE motorbikes, and Asambe will give the players in this industry a great opportunity to lower their operational costs, which is critical in a country like Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s fuel costs are the highest in the SADC region. Petrol costs close to $1.20 per liter. Zimbabwe has also been plagued by crippling petrol shortages. Electric bicycles are perfect for this segment, as most deliveries are under 10 kilometer and the packages are usually under 30 kilograms. Asambe is looking to enter into more 3rd party delivery agreements as well as onboard more vehicles on its platform. Asambe has partnered with property owners within the hospitality sector to locate its stations.
Asambe’s docking stations are powered by solar. Users can pick up and drop off a vehicle at any of these stations. The stations also house the battery swap and charge stations. These solar powered stations again show the beauty of the synergies between PV and EVs. Asambe will also retail both new and pre-loved vehicles and help increase the penetration of electric scooters and bicycles in this part of the world. Asambe has just completed its Seed Capital Round, which attracted investment from Power Ventures Africa, among others. We hope the company can be able to quickly scale its operations by riding the growth in the ecommerce and on-demand delivery service as well as the tourism sector, which is just beginning to open up again. It’s really good to see more startups focusing on e-mobility from the micromobility perspective. Affordable micromobility options will help lower operational costs for businesses from a logistics point of view, as well as offer visitors a convenient and efficient way to get around.
All images courtesy of Asambe.