Ugandan bike-hailing startup, Safeboda has finally made its long-awaited debut into the Nigerian market. The startup kick-started operations in Ibadan, making the city its first Nigerian market.
This new development comes about 10 months after Safeboda announced its interest in the Nigerian market. The startup also appointed former Andela Community Manager, Babajide Duroshola as its Country Head.
Founded in 2015, the startup operates like other bike-hailing startups like ORide, Gokada and Max.ng. It allows users to order rides from wherever they are in the city via an app. And with a strong presence in Uganda and Kenya, Nigeria, home to over 200 million people, is its 3rd market.
Why did it take Safeboda so long to get here?
This development is coming nearly a year after SafeBoda announced its expansion into Nigeria, appointing a Country manager in the process. According to an insider, the reason for this is because the startup wanted to get everything right.
“We had to take our time to study the Nigerian Market, put structures in place and recruit the best guys,” the insider told TechNext. We intend to ensure excellence in all facets of our service delivery.”
Speaking on reach and coverage, the insider revealed that the Safeboda app doesn’t work in all of Ibadan just yet.
“We do not currently operate in all areas in Ibadan, so the app is only available in some select areas in Ibadan. But we will continue to expand to other areas.”
Thus, it is imperative that users check to confirm if their areas are covered in the coverage before attempting to use the app.
While Safeboda might be launching a new operation in Ibadan, its model is, however, an old one. While it is unclear if the startup came with its own set of bikes, the obvious strategy, for now, is to simply onboard bikes from independent owners.
“Our model is to partner with traditional bike owners and onboard them onto our platforms,” the insider confirmed to Technext.
Thus, asides its technology, SafeBoda doesn’t seem to be bringing much else to the country. The model is, however, the same with Oride’s model in Ibadan, and so far, it seems to be working just fine.
Why Ibadan is the new Lagos
Safeboda isn’t starting its operations in Lagos, the country’s economic capital and most populous city. This is quite unlike its predecessors in the Nigerian bike-hailing space. This can be easily associated with recent developments.
Recently, the Lagos state government dealt a heavy blow on bike-hailing startups when it issued a restriction on commercial motorcycles in LGAs and roads in the state. This has seen many of the startups pivot into deliveries while others are silent about their next steps.
Before that development, the startups had been facing several operational challenges. Most worrying of them is the clampdown and extortion by transport unions and law enforcement officers.
While the government proposed a levy of N25 million annually, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) demanded a tax of N500 per bike.
This will have been too heavy a burden to bear for a startup like SafeBoda which has only raised about $1.3million till date.
Choosing Ibadan as its first market will mean the company will have lesser regulatory and operational challenges to deal with.
However, there will be another nut for them to crack – the market. When TechNext spoke to Ibadan residents in December 2019, many were of the opinion that they will be open to using the service if it’s –
- available and of good quality, and
- proves to be trustworthy.
Having spent several months doing its groundwork in the state, one could only believe that the startup has all the bases covered.
Beyond these though, they will also have competition to deal with in Opera’s ORide. The service launched in the state last year and has since endeared itself to residents with its discounted rides.
Currently, Safeboda is offering free rides to users on their first order on its platform.
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