Kampala, Uganda: PIDG company InfraCo Africa, together with a consortium including DOB Equity and Mobility 54, has signed an agreement with Zembo, committing over €3 million to support the growth of the company’s electric motorcycle business in Kampala, Uganda. Zembo enables drivers to buy electric motorcycle taxis (“boda boda”) or to pay for them on a lease-to-own basis. The investment will enable the company to grow the number of electric motorcycles on the road by approximately 2,000 and will support development of an additional >60 Zembo charging and battery swapping stations across the city.
Étienne Saint-Sermin, co-founder of Zembo said, “We’re excited to partner with impact-focused institutions like InfraCo Africa, DOB Equity, and Mobility 54 to continue developing electric boda bodas and charging stations for our customers. Zembo’s mission to improve incomes for Uganda’s boda boda riders while cutting air pollution is shared by our supporters and is a driving force for this partnership. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and making sustainable mobility a reality in Uganda.”
InfraCo Africa’s CEO, Gilles Vaes, added: “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. 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 project also aligns with global efforts to improve air quality and to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century.”
As well as increasing the number of electric motorcycle taxis on Kampala’s roads, Zembo’s model means that drivers do not need to buy or own batteries or wait for them to be charged, 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 fueled by 92% renewable energyi and the addition of off-grid solar PV charging stations will also ensure that vehicles are truly reducing emissions.
Saskia van der Mast, Co-CEO of Dutch private equity firm DOB Equity said, “Zembo is offering a lowemission and cheaper transport solution to meet the growing demand for urban transportation. 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.”
Takeshi Watanabe from Mobility 54 – a Corporate Venture Capital facility of Toyota Tsusho Corporation -said of today’s announcement: “It is great to have InfraCo Africa on board as an anchor InfraCo Africa is supported by investor and co-developer committed to Zembo’s growth in Uganda. 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.”
The new investment is expected to support Zembo’s growth, whilst embedding high standards of health and safety and business development to enable the company to scale and to attract further private sector investment in the future. As part of global efforts to achieve net zero emissions, Zembo’s model has considerable potential for replication in other African cities.
Notes to editors:
• The population of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, is expected to reach 4.1 million by 2024.ii
• As a fast, easily accessible mode of transport, the number of “boda boda” on Uganda’s roads
is expected to increase significantly, potentially adding to existing health challenges presented
by urban air pollution.
• Urban transport constitutes 60% of kilometres travelled globally and is the largest cause of
carbon emissions and air pollution (Van Audenhove et al., 2014).iii
• As battery prices continue to fall sharply, there is increasing interest in the potential of electric
vehicles to support cleaner urban transportation.
• Zembo has sold or leased 200 electric “boda boda” motorcycles in Kampala to date,
establishing 20 charging stations and averaging 10,000 battery swaps per month.
• Modelled on the pay-as-you-go (PayGo) model used across the African solar sector, Zembo’s
approach seeks to ensure that electric mobility is affordable for drivers and passengers.
The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG): The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG)
is an innovative infrastructure project developer and investor which mobilises private investment in sustainable
and inclusive infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and south and south-east Asia. PIDG investments promote
socio-economic development within a just transition to net zero emissions, combat poverty and contribute to
the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PIDG delivers its ambition in line with its values of opportunity,
accountability, safety, integrity and impact. Since 2002, PIDG has supported 171 infrastructure projects to
financial close which provided an estimated 217 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure.
PIDG is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden,
Germany and the IFC. www.pidg.org
InfraCo Africa: InfraCo Africa is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). InfraCo Africa
seeks to alleviate poverty by mobilising private investment into high-quality infrastructure projects in subSaharan Africa’s poorest countries. It addresses the risks and costs of early-stage project development: funding
teams of experienced developers and providing risk capital to those projects which need the financial
commitment and leverage that InfraCo Africa can bring. InfraCo Africa is funded by the governments of the
InfraCo Africa is supported by
United Kingdom (through FCDO), the Netherlands (through DGIS) and Switzerland (through SECO). For more
information visit: www.infracoafrica.com
Zembo: Zembo provides affordable electric motorcycles and battery-as-a-service for motorcycle taxi drivers in
Africa, recharging them in solar battery swap stations. For more information visit: https://www.zem.bo/
DOB Equity is a Dutch, family-backed impact investment firm that invests in impactful and innovative businesses
in East Africa, with offices in Nairobi and in the Netherlands. DOB Equity invests equity and offers tailored
financing, access to international networks and technical assistance to meet the needs of the business. With a
portfolio of fast-growing companies in the East African energy, food & agri, education, retail and distribution
sectors, DOB Equity is determined to further expand its presence and impact in the region. For more information
on DOB Equity: https://www.dobequity.nl/
Mobility 54 Investment SAS (Mobility 54): Mobility 54 was established in October 2019 as a mobility-dedicated
Corporate Venture Capital (CV) for Africa under Toyota Tsusho Corp and CFAO group. Investing ‘With Africa, For
Africa,’ Mobility 54 is helping to solve the social and industrial challenges in Africa. For more information visit: