NopeaRide, Kenya’s first EV taxi service, shuts down

By Mark Kawalya

NopeaRide a company that offered Kenya’s first fully electric ride hailing service, is closing its doors. This is because EkoRent, the firm’s parent company, failed to raise additional funding to keep the firm running.

Information from NopeaRide states that EkoRent Oy Africa, the local subsidiary of the Finnish firm, has sought insolvency, leading to a halt in the operations of the fully electric taxi service provider in Kenya. The thrust of the company’s strategy was to offer environmentally friendly mobility options while competing with dominating market players like Uber and Bolt.

“We have taken our fleet of electric vehicles off the road and have notified our staff and corporate clients. We are now working with relevant authorities to ensure that our operations are wound up in accordance with local legislation,” NopeaRide said in a statement.

“We would like to extend our deepest regret to our dedicated team of staff and drivers. We would also like to thank our loyal NopeaRide customers, corporate clients and other partners who have supported NopeaRide’s vision for electric mobility in Africa,” the statement further said.

EkoRent Oy was founded in 2014 by Juha Suojanen to offer transport solutions that relied on electricity and solar energy. This led to the launch of NopeaRide in the Kenyan market in 2018. The firm offered facilities to its drivers, which included a well-established charging network, rider applications, and electric vehicles. However, the driver was expected to arrange for their own financing plan, and the startup had grown from 3 to 70 taxis by the time it closed. The firm had also built a vehicle charging network spread across Nairobi following the acquisition of undisclosed funding in 2019.

In 2022, NopeaRide received €200,000 in funding, which was a fraction of what the firm was raising from a financing facility for clean energy for early-stage startups in East and Southern Africa. The funding was in the hope that the firm would develop more solar charging hubs around Nairobi and spread out its service radius in anticipation of growth.  

The startup had stated that it was poised for recovery this year after taking a hit from the COVID pandemic, which impacted the number of rides people requested using its platform.

“In the first half of 2022, our traffic numbers grew to about the same level as before COVID-19.” We also started to put more effort into the corporate segment as employees were returning to the office and we managed to sign contracts with a few big international companies. it said.

The insolvency of Ekorent Oy Africa curtailed the firm’s ability to secure more funding to expand the business and keep it running.

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