InfraCo, DOB and Mobility54 invest in Zembo’s Electric Motorcycles

UGANDA Investment firm InfraCo Africa has partnered with Dutch investor DOB Equity and Mobility 54 to invest €3 million (US$ 3.43m) in Zembo Motorcycles SMC’s electric mobility solution, to improve its operations.

InfraCo Africa continues to roll out its green finance in Africa. The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) investment company is entering into an agreement with DOB Equity, an impact investor dedicated to East African countries, and Mobility 54, a venture capital firm operating in Africa under the umbrella of Toyota Tsusho Corporation and CFAO (Corporation For Africa & Overseas) Group.

The company, based in the Ugandan capital Kampala, assembles electric motorcycles and puts them on the road. The city of 1.6 million people counts motorcycle cabs, known locally as “boda boda,” among its means of transportation.

“Zembo is an exciting transaction for InfraCo Africa. Having invested in an all-electric taxi-hailing service in Nairobi, we are pleased to bring our experience of the e-mobility sector to co-developing Zembo’s offering in Uganda,” InfraCo Africa’s CEO, Gilles Vaes, said.

Zembo has a great track record of delivering electric two-wheeler vehicles to the market and our joint effort with DOB Equity and Mobility 54 to scale and develop the business will expand the company’s ability to cut urban air pollution, create jobs and promote economic development in Kampala.

The funding will allow the company to increase the number of electric motorcycles on the road by almost 2,000, as well as support the installation of more than 60 Zembo charging and battery swapping stations throughout the city.

“Zembo is offering a low-emission and cheaper transport solution to meet the growing demand for urban transportation,” Saskia van der Mast, Co-CEO of Dutch private equity firm DOB Equity said.

“With an ambition to invest more in Uganda as well as in companies with a strong environmental angle, DOB is excited to partner with Zembo and work together with InfraCo Africa and Mobility 54 to scale the electric mobility industry on the continent.”

The additional investment is expected to help Zembo expand while also instilling strong standards of health and safety and commercial development, allowing the company to scale and attract further private sector investment.

Zembo’s concept has a lot of promise for replication in other African cities as part of the worldwide push to attain net zero emissions.

“It is great to have InfraCo Africa on board as an anchor investor and co-developer committed to Zembo’s growth in Uganda,” Takeshi Watanabe from Mobility 54 — a Corporate Venture Capital facility of Toyota Tsusho Corporation — said.

“We believe that the Zembo’s zero emission motorcycles as well as carbon-free charging swap stations are tremendously contributing to the carbon neutrality of Uganda where air pollution is deemed to be one of the worst levels in Africa.

“Zembo’s e-motorcycles are also improving the income of the boda boda drivers through lower fuel and maintenance costs than the conventional combustion engines. At Mobility 54, we are committed to working with Zembo under our slogan “With Africa, For Africa” so as to help solve social and industrial challenges we are facing in Africa.”

Zembo, which was founded in 2018 by Etienne Saint-Sernin and Daniel Dreher, provides boda-boda drivers with electric motorcycles and solar charging stations.

Zembo’s model not only increases the number of electric motorcycle taxis on Kampala’s roads, but it also eliminates the need for drivers to purchase or own batteries or wait for them to be charged; instead, they simply swap a discharged battery for a fully charged one at one of Zembo’s battery swap stations and continue their journey.

Uganda’s national grid is powered by renewable energy to the tune of 92 percent, and the addition of off-grid solar PV charging stations will further assure that automobiles are actually cutting emissions.

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