NopeaRide, Kenya’s First EV Taxi Startup, Is Revving To A Halt
NopeaRide, a startup that is said to be the first electric taxi-hailing service in Kenya, is winding down operations in the East African market. EkoRent Africa, the Finnish parent firm of the service, is powering the platform down after failing to secure additional working capital.
Given the tough funding environment occasioned by the macroeconomic abnormalities of the year 2020, it is somewhat surprising to see another tech company with African operations throw in the towel. In this case, NopeaRide, which is Finnish for “fast ride”, has [already] filed for insolvency.
Just last year, the all-electric taxi player revealed that it is on the verge of increasing the number of vehicles it has on roads in Nairobi from 30 to 100. Towards the end of the year, its fleet grew to 70 cars, but efforts to secure funding that would help fully actualize its plans and become as profitable as it was during the pandemic, fell through.
“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,” the startup 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 read.
In the past few years of operations, the EV pioneer’s parent company was able to woo investors, raising, among other injections, USD 1 M for NopeaRide in 2021 to help the company come up with a sustainable transport system to reduce the amount of air pollution plaguing Kenya.
As of June, the service had covered over 4 million kilometers and helped the Kenyan capital cut 650 tons of CO2 emissions.
Apparently, EkoRent Oy, the Finnish entity responsible for NopeaRide’s operations in Africa, went into insolvency back home and, as such, is unable to scale its subsidiary in Kenya. Apparently, the business was grossly upset by the coronavirus pandemic.
NopeaRide joins the rather short list of Kenyan tech firms that have struggled to keep the lights on this year. Foodtech startup Kune shuttered in June for similar reasons, Notify Logistics in September, and other companies like MarketForce, Alerzo, and Sendy have recently resorted to downsizing their teams.
Sky.Garden, an eCommerce marketplace, also faced uncertainties but, thankfully, was able to avert a shutdown by securing a buyer for the business. This has kept the business alive and its jobs intact.
As one may already know, with national intentions to go green, Kenya is bracing to become the EV hotbed of Africa. But as companies vie for a share of the market, much still has to go into striking a balance between demand and sustainable supply.
Image Courtesy: Vecteezy