Metro Africa Xpress (MAX), a logistics and mobility platform for commuters and businesses, has launched electric motorcycle in Nigeria to enable farmers to transport their produce from farm to the market.
According to the technology-driven Mobility Company, the initiative, which is first of its kind in Nigeria, has kicked off in a rural community in Ogun State.
“We are piloting electric motorcycle in rural communities to facilitate access to the market for farmers through a more affordable means of transportation,” Guy-Bertrand Njoya, CFO of MAX, says in a recent interview with BusinessDay.
With the mission to make mobility safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable for all Africans, MAX’s new electric motorcycle initiative, which is scheduled to kick off in August, has already been piloted in a rural community in Ogun State.
“We have partnered with a mini-grid operator that will be in the community to provide solar energy and we have deployed electric motorcycles there with a stop in stations,” Njoya states, adding that MAX has provided about 20 motorcycles to a combination of farmers and transport operators in the community.
MAX explains that through the new electric motorcycles it is driving economic activities in the host community.
“Now they have access to electric bike; they do not need to ride hundreds of thousands of miles to have access to the closest filling station. They now have access to clean and cheap energy, so we are solving many problems at once,” he says.
Explaining why it has not launched the electric motorcycle in other states in Nigerian, the CFO notes: “When we come into a new market we try and understand how the market operates.”
While MAX has highlighted that it will leverage the electric motorcycle to solve the problem of access to energy, access to market while also solving the problem of sustainable and robust means of transportation, he states that the company wants to gather some data and learn from the experience of the product pilot in Ogun State before replicating it in other states.
“We’ll replicate and scale it in other regions across Nigeria,” Njoya says, adding that the electric motorcycle will lead to improved income generation for farmers, which is in line with the plans of MAX to push back poverty, include more excluded Nigerians into the economic net, and thus, boost financial inclusion.
Meanwhile, one of the greatest problems confronting rural farmers and communities in Nigeria is the absence of critical infrastructure such as ‘motorable’ roads. This is hindering market access for farmers in such communities who work assiduously to eke out a living from farming.
Nigeria continues to suffer a low level of agricultural productivity due to infrastructural deficit across the country. Due to the deplorable state of roads, farmers have to grow only what they can eat or the extra they can carry on their heads to nearby markets.
Most times, the surplus gets rotten in storage in the villages or during transit as a result of many hours or days spent in transporting the foodstuffs to where they are needed due to bad roads.
Meanwhile, urban dwellers have to spend a very large percentage of their income to buy food. This is because the food that gets to the towns and cities are far more expensive than what the poor struggling farmers would have sold them.
The inability of farmers to market their farm produce means a lack of adequate income for production inputs and to expand production. As a result, many farmers are still unable to afford consumer goods and meet their immediate cash requirements, educate their children, live in decent houses and afford good healthcare.