OX Is Working To Cut Post-Harvest Food Losses In Africa With Its Transport-As-A-Service Model

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The transport sector in a lot of African countries is unfortunately not inclusive. It leaves the majority of the population who live in rural areas without access to reliable transport services. This is a major impediment to their economic empowerment. The agricultural sector, which is a big employer on the continent, presents one of the biggest opportunities to empower rural communities if efficiencies are unlocked from the current ecosystem, and also if it is scaled up to reach its potential. However, due to lack of dependable transport services and other supporting services such as cold chains, post-harvest losses are still a major impediment to progress.

The total quantitative food loss in sub-Saharan Africa has been estimated at 37% post-harvest, or 100 million metric tons per year. OX Delivers wants to help solve this problem in a more sustainable manner, and more importantly, in a manner that allows people to afford modern, dependable transport services. OX’s first market on the continent is Rwanda. Rwanda’s population is projected to double from about 13.5 million today to 22 million in the next 30 years. Food insecurity is still a big problem in Rwanda. Rwanda’s food security index is below the average for Sub-Saharan African countries. Tackling post-harvest food losses will go a long way in increasing food security.

OX Delivers is headquartered in the UK, but OX Rwanda is an independently owned subsidiary and is headquartered in Kigali. “OX combines goods shipment with financial, trading and marketing services – all enabled by our purpose-built technology.” This allows OX, its users, and their local communities to access new markets, increase their income, and develop new business opportunities. Therefore, creating more demand for OX and support for everyone within the ecosystem.

The key to affordability and lowering the barriers for these underserved communities is the OX Transport-As-A-Service (TaaS) Model. Since OX retains ownership of the vehicles, its customers get access to transport services in a manner they are familiar with. A lot of communities are well acquainted with the Pay-As-You-Go system from the small home solar system ecosystem, and therefore a TaaS model is a great application of a similar model to ensure that consumers can actually take up the service.

One of the main reasons why these rural areas are underserved is the lack of proper roads and associated infrastructure for conventional cars, trucks, and buses to service those areas. To solve this issue, OX has designed a robust truck in a form factor to handle this challenging terrain. The OX Truck is an all-terrain EV truck with high-carrying capacity. Here is a summary of its electric truck’s specifications:

  • Payload: 2 tonnes
  • Battery capacity: 74kWh
  • Motor: 110kW (continuous)
  • Dimensions: Vehicle width 2080 mm (excluding mirrors), 2500 mm (inc. mirrors), height 2385 mm, length 4754 mm

OX now has an electric truck prototype in the field in Rwanda. It has a range of 150km. The company is working on longer range models as well. The vehicles are currently made in the UK, and will continue to be manufactured there as production volumes grow, however another part of their unique design is that they will be shipped ‘flat pack’, with six trucks fitting in one shipping container, and then assembled in Rwanda in OX micro factories. This will ensure there is local knowledge and understanding of the vehicles. Furthermore, they are designed to be worked on by any mechanic, so no specialist skills are needed when moving from working on trucks currently in the market to these new models.

As part of its data gathering exercise and pilot, OX currently has a fleet of 21 diesel trucks to map out the actual daily requirements, daily range, routes, loads, and frequencies. OX will use this valuable information as they iterate and continuously improve their all electric prototype. The company hopes to retire the diesel fleet and go all electric within the next two years.

OX also has refrigerated trucks for transporting meat and vegetables. The government of Rwanda and partners are also working on some cold chain initiatives under the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) program, and OX plans to seamlessly slot into this ecosystem. The ACES program was developed by the Governments of Rwanda and the United Kingdom (UK), the United Nations Environment Programme and the UK’s Centre for Sustainable Cooling leading a consortium of leading UK universities, and University of Rwanda with more than $20M of seed investment committed by the UK and Rwanda Governments and industry, alongside the campus and physical infrastructure. The project is aiming to have cold rooms in all 30 districts of the country.

OX is currently operating from 4 depots, 2 in the western province and 2 in the south province. Its electric vehicle is currently charging at these depots. As it scales and its fleet grows, OX will roll out more charging stations around the country.

Images courtesy of OX

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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.

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