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Female-Owned Electric Scooter Delivery Service TPL Onthego Looks To Scale In Zimbabwe

After 6 years in China where she taught English at an international school, Elizabeth returned to Zimbabwe and founded The Purple Lifestyle LTD in January 2019. The Purple Lifestyle was focused on home and office cleaning and disinfection services. Then in early 2020, just after they had been operating for a year, the coronavirus pandemic hit and affected their operations during the first hard lockdowns. Elizabeth and her team decided to add a delivery service to cater to people stuck at home due to the strong travel restrictions locally, regionally and internationally.

She decided to make it a zero emission all-electric scooter delivery service inspired by all the electric scooters and motorcycles she was used to back in China. “As a company, we have always considered ourselves to be environmentalists. There is a growing need for us as citizens of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world to become more mindful of the way we utilise our resources,” says Elizabeth Kangai, founder of TPL Onthego electric delivery service. “We work with both small and large restaurants, pharmacies, corporates and individuals to do deliveries on their behalf. We have started with 5 electric scooters and we are working to grow our fleet so that we can cover more areas around Harare and the rest of the country.”

“We started 6 months ago but our launch had been delayed by over 4 months due to some issues during the vehicle registration process. First of all, we discovered that there was no classification for electric scooters and motorcycles in the system and the relevant authorities wanted to know the “engine number and capacity” to register the vehicles, fields they normally enter into their system when registering internal combustion engine vehicles. One of the things that surprised us was a question that was asked over and over again, which was “Are these scooters toys?”

This is an issue we have noticed in several African countries where it seems the authorities have yet to update their platforms to include EVs. In some countries it’s much easier to get a Nissan Leaf registered, as the majority of EVs starting to find their way to a lot of African countries are used Nissan Leafs. TPL Onthego’s scooters have a 2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and have a range of about 60 km depending on the riding speed. The battery can be charged from a normal wall socket in about 3 hours, and they have a maximum speed of 80 km/h, making them quite well suited for last mile delivery service. TPL also offers long and short term rentals which are negotiable, depending on the client’s needs. “We provide a rider with the bike for however long our customers’ needs the service.”

“We sourced the scooters from Guangzhou, China where electric scooters are pretty normal there. It was quite easy for me to get them from there since I can speak the language and I lived in China for over 6 years. This made it much easier to negotiate with the dealerships and suppliers there. We have learnt that there is still quite a lot of education needed here in Zimbabwe to get people to appreciate the electric bikes. We hope more individuals and companies realise the need to go green especially from transport and logistics point of view in order to sustain our environment.”

“The delivery business is all about volumes. There is now a lot of competition in the delivery business so we are working to get more bikes in order for us to push more volumes and cover more areas.”

 

 

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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