By Mark Kawalya
Spiro is an e-motorcycle and battery swapping startup that has deployed more than 4,500 e-motorcycles in Togo, Rwanda and Benin. Previously known as MAUTO, the firm has plans to considerably scale its operation by giving out 140,000 free motorcycles in Uganda over a five-year period.
The bikes will be targeted at motorcycle taxi operators (boda boda) with the firm using a strategy of generating revenue from the battery swapping and charging side of its operations.
Transportation via boda bodas has risen in popularity in Uganda due to the convenience and affordability that the motorcycle taxis offer when compared to conventional vehicle transportation. Motorcycles offer an attractive alternative due to an underdeveloped transport system that suffers from congestion, especially during peak hours. Also motorcycles are cheaper to maintain than other vehicles, so they have quickly risen in popularity among many Ugandans.
A thriving boda-boda industry has emerged that has created various job opportunities for mechanics, riders and spare part businesses, making a significant contribution to the local economy.
With most of the motorcycles plying Ugandan roads running on fossil fuels, they contribute significantly to emissions and reduce air quality in some of Uganda’s busier cities.
With $50 million in funding from the African Fund for Transformation and Industrialization (ATIF) Spiro plans to not only give out 140,000 locally assembled motorcycles but also construct more than 3,000 battery swapping stations.
“Our ability to deploy over 4,500 electric motorcycles in less than a year of operation is evidence of the fact that electric two-wheelers are the future of sustainable mobility in Africa,” says Shegun Adjadi Bakari, CEO of Spiro and partner at the African Fund for Transformation and Industrialization (ATIF).
With a battery swap process of about three minutes, riders do not have to wait for extended periods as their batteries are being charged.
Currently, Spiro operates 25 battery swapping stations, which facilitate more than 130,000 battery swaps in countries that Spiro has a footprint in. Additionally, the firm’s 4,500 motorcycles have collectively covered more than 22 million kilometers. Spiro also has plans to build an electric motorcycle assembly plant that will create jobs for 9,000 jobs for people in the electric mobility industry.
The motorcycle from Spiro has a 6.5 kW motor and a top speed of 80 km/h. With a range of 90km for each charge, the bike can be supplemented for additional use throughout the day by swapping the discharged battery.