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Clean Transport

Roam & M-KOPA Sign Major Supply Agreement For Deployment Of Electric Motorcycles In Africa

Roam, previously known as Opibus, has signed a major supply agreement with M-KOPA. M-KOPA is a fintech platform that provides credit and digital financial services to underbanked consumers in Africa. This is one of the first-ever large-scale supply agreements for electric motorcycles in Africa. The agreement will enable the credit sales of electric motorcycles, lowering the barrier to entry for customers through affordable payment plans. Roam will deliver the fleet by the end of 2022 in time for mass deployment in early 2023. This milestone supports Roam’s vision of making electric vehicles more accessible to a broader market.

Motorcycles are a key pillar of the transport landscape across Africa, with a large market share across  the logistics, taxi, & personal transport sectors. 99% of the motorcycles being assembled in Africa or imported onto the continent are still internal combustion engine motorcycles that contribute a significant portion of emissions from the transport sector. Therefore, accelerating the adoption of electric motorcycles has become critical.  Roam, one of the leaders in the electric mobility space in Africa, now has a new generation electric motorcycle, the Roam Air. This next generation motorcycle features advancements based on learnings from  previous pilots, including optimization of performance, effectiveness, and a more robust design. The Roam Air motorcycles can be used for personal use, but are also appropriate for cargo transportation and taxi services. Additionally, the Roam Air comes equipped with a removable dual battery pack, lowering downtime and increasing rider flexibility.

Here are the specs of the new Roam Air:

Roam Air Specifications:

  • Battery Capacity: 2 x 3.24 kWh
  • Range (Dual Battery): 180km
  • Nominal Power: 3000 W
  • Top Speed: 90 km/h
  • Payload: 220 kg
  • Weight (Single Battery): 135 kg
  • Charging time: 4 h

Features:

  • Removable dual battery solution
  • Driving modes: Eco, Standard, Power, Sports, Reverse
  • Increased carrying capacity on subframe
  • State-of-the-art software and onboard telemetry
  • Storage compartment in tank
  • Improved screen user interface with better visibility
  • USB charging port

The new partnership between Roam and M-KOPA is a game-changer for the electric mobility sector on the continent. By combining the power of digital micropayments with the Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology, M-KOPA enables underbanked customers to access a broad range of products and services without collateral. M-KOPA will aid in the deployment of the motorcycles through its innovative ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ model, which allows customers instant access to products while building ownership over time through flexible micro-payments.

Working with M-KOPA will streamline distribution of electric motorcycles, and at the same time, provide the opportunity to grow Roam’s market reach in regions across Africa where M-KOPA operates, starting in Kenya. This will enable customers to lower their operational costs by over 70%, which results in increased daily income by 50%, a boost that can fundamentally change the livelihoods of the drivers.

By leveraging the proven and well established ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ model that allows customers to access goods and financial services through a small deposit and then a series of micropayments, Africa’s electric mobility landscape can get a key catalyst to mass adoption. We have seen this with other product offerings such as small off grid home solar systems, refrigerators and cellular phones. In the  ‘Pay-As-You-Go’ model, these micropayments for small off-grid home solar systems have traditionally been 365 daily payments of about USD 50 cents for example, which can be made through the ubiquitous M-PESA mobile payment service, for example. This kind of model helps democratize access to key resources such as electricity and is now being extended to the transport.

“This agreement is an incredible trigger for electric motorcycle adoption in emerging markets and validates our vision of releasing a locally designed product that exceeds the experience of traditional fossil fuel motorcycles for a similar price. We want to provide a compelling environmental and economic solution for markets that haven’t been part of the electric vehicle transition yet. We believe the motorcycle taxi industry is one of the most impactful areas to start, given the growing market size and importance for low income earners not only in Africa but globally. Our partnership with M-KOPA will drive us both towards our shared vision of cleaner mobility.”  — Mikael Gånge, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Roam

“The partnership with Roam aligns us with a major player equally committed to Africa’s sustainable development, and sees us expand our product offerings to include electric motorcycles, which is a true testament to the versatility of our fintech platform. At M-KOPA, we’re committed to lowering the barriers to entry and making everyday essentials accessible, especially to underbanked customers, through flexible payment plans. This rollout will have a transformative effect on the daily incomes of business people and reduce the environmental footprint of commerce, as it continues to grow in rapidly developing markets.” — David Damberger, Managing Director M-KOPA Mobility and M-KOPA Labs

Founded in 2011, M-KOPA has operations in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. M-KOPA’s platform has unlocked over $600 million in credit that has enabled 2 million customers to access smartphones, solar lighting, solar-powered appliances, electric motorcycles, and digital financial services such as cash loans and health insurance. With partnerships such as this one between Roam and M-KOPA, the infrastructure to support mass adoption of these electric motorcycles is now shaping up nicely.

All images courtesy of Roam

 
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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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