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Tech firms race for Nigeria's motorbike taxis

Video Credit: Reuters - Business (Amazon FireT
Published on June 12, 2019 - Duration: 02:04s

Tech firms race for Nigeria's motorbike taxis

Motorcycle ride-hailing companies are expanding into West Africa following investment from backers betting that the success of two-wheeled taxis in Asia and east Africa can be replicated.

Gracie Jerome reports.

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Tech firms race for Nigeria's motorbike taxis

In Nigeria's commercial capital, these drivers are part of the race to monopolize west Africa's ride-hailing services.

There's been big investment from firms hoping for the same success in this relatively untapped market, that similar services have already had in parts of the continent's east.

Like Fahim, who saw a gap in the Lagos market when he started 'Gokada' last year.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER, GOKADA, FAHIM SALEH, SAYING: "There are so many okadas that they are here to stay atleast for a while, so why not make the best of it, right?

Why not make sure they are riding safely, why not track them, why not give them proper permits and make the best of the situation instead of just ignoring what the reality is." His company's named afer the 'okada', the motorbike taxi known in other parts of Africa as boda bodas.

There are an estimated eight million of these unregulated bikers in Nigeria, and users say they feel a lot less safe than new app-based services.

The majority of people here don't own a car - it's too expensive and the roads are too busy.

This, coupled with the city's fast growing population make Lagos a prime spot for these apps.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS NIGERIA BUREAU CHIEF, ALEXIS AKWAGYIRAM, SAYING: "These new companies that are coming in are trying to show the convenience of ride-hailing - so you can hail them in the street, the convenience of an app, and also - they say they'll provide safety by providing passengers with a helmet, and accountability through a rating system." But it's a big expense for a lot of people.

Each journey costs about two dollars, which is more than most Nigerians live on every day.

Still, it's a big market, and after a successful launch in Lagos, rival firm max.ng already has the investment to launch in three other west African cities in Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-FOUNDER, MAX.NG, ADETAYO BAMIDURO, SAYING: "If you combine all the organized and structured ride hailing platforms and transport companies till date, there is still less than one percent of the total market." Proving there's big money in mobility, it's already got six million dollars of funding in the last few months.

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