OPay launches bike hailing services ORide to become Nigeria’s super app


China’s WeChat allows users to do just about anything in China. The Tencent backed platform has over 900 million active users daily, powers over 806 million monthly users for WeChat Pay in 25 countries, sees 205 million connected calls every day and 68 million videos are posted every day.

The platform also has over 50 million active senior users and sees 38 billion messages sent every day and users sent 6.1 billion voice messages every day. Weixin as its favourably called in China is now a fully-fledged ecosystem offering chat, in-store payments for goods and services, food ordering and table reservation, fitness tracker and games.

Last year, Kenya’s Safaricom launched Bonga, to help make its mobile payment platform M-PESA a bit more social and more platform like. But it might take more time than expected to build such an ecosystem.

Opera, the guys who run the Opera browser and Opay and Okash, mobile wallet and mobile lending platforms respectively have launched a bike hailing platform dubbed ORide in Nigeria, as it mulls its Super App status on the continent.

OPay wants to be used for almost everything in Nigeria and loans were just a start. With the launch of ORide, the firm sits at the center of Africa’s most used transportation system, the motorcycle, which is also affordable compared to cars. The motorcycle makes Africa’s broken transport system accessible and has been used as a natural cure to traffic jams in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya. In both Nairobi and Lagos, Traffic jams cost businesses millions of dollars each year and entrepreneurs want to solve that menace using motorcycles.

Though motorcycles and cars won’t help reduce traffic congestion, African cities are turning to motorcycles to evade traffic nonetheless and India is making a kill with its affordable $800 to $1200 motorcycles and tricycles.

Recently, Nigeria’s Gokada raised $5.3m Series A round to become the operating system of how cities function optimally and efficiently across Africa. The firm said it will use the funds to deploy its investment to expand its driver fleet, increase daily rides by 10 fold and acquire local tech talent. In addition, the company will explore new verticals for business growth. The new verticals mean it will venture into businesses such as loans, messaging, payments, insurance among others to be more like Asia’s super app GoJek.

GOJEK powers food ordering, transport, payments, shopping, hyper-local delivery among other services such as getting a massage. With more than 125 million app downloads, GOJEK has over 18 products and adds more services each year.

Nigeria’s Gokada, on the other hand, has around 1,000 motorcycles, has completed nearly one million rides since inception with combined app downloads of close to 200,000. This is the best time for it to venture into new verticals and the funding comes at an appropriate time.

According to Fahim Saleh, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Gokada, “Today’s announcement allows us to accelerate our growth projections significantly, as we continue to grow our market share and look to introduce more product features and services”.

Gokada’s rapid entry into Lagos’ transport market has been transformative said Nazar Yasin, Founder and Managing Partner at Rise Capital who added that the firm has noticed that some markets like Nigeria and Indonesia, which both have large populations and inadequate road infrastructure, are more likely to be dominated by motorcycle-hailing companies rather than traditional car-hailing players. Gojek is from Indonesia and Rise Capital is investing into Gokada to help it scale to become ”Africa’s Gojek”.

Opera also has both the resources and the technology to scale OPay into more services. Opera, the most popular mobile browser in Africa announced in May 2017, it would invest $100 million to facilitate the growth of African digital economy and maintain its number one position. The firm also said it was working with over 47 top tier African companies to integrate value-added services, mobile payment and data bundling into its browser.

“Africa is a very important market for Opera. Nine of the top 20 Opera Mini user countries are from Africa,” said Richard Monday, Vice President of Africa, Opera Software. “We aim to invest heavily in Africa, to build a local platform and grow with the local business partners. This platform will expand the user base for content providers, e-commerce businesses, operators, OEM’s and others to strengthen the African internet ecosystem.”

The Norway-based China owned firm promised it would add a new range of services to become a hub that will provide African users with great content and value added services as well as strengthen the internet ecosystem with local partners.

With operations in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, Opera quickly opened up offices in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya to support its businesses. Then came the launch of OKash, an instant mobile loaning service in Kenya and now ORide in Nigeria.

ORide, will have to compete platforms such as MAX,UberBoda, Little Boda, TaxifyBoda, Safeboda, SafeMotos, BusyBoda, GetBoda in this markets. Opay, apart from its new ride hailing app ORide, is also allowing users to send and receive money to any bank in Nigeria, as well as set up mobile money agency businesses to generate more income. Opay has 20 Thousand Agents on its Mobile Money Platform.

Users can also order for food, purchase airtime for family or friends from any network within the OPay app and users can also pay for their electricity bills, GOTV, DSTV and STARTIMES subscription using OPay without any convenience fee.

Everything delivery startup Glovo is also reopening its operations in Egypt and is also setting up shop in Nigeria and Ghana in a few months after setting up successfully in Nairobi, Kenya. Glovo is banking on food delivery in Kenya then expand into other verticals. There is a high likelihood that Glovo Nigeria will also bank on food as its first primary product for its first few months of operation.

Glovo is not the latest platform to launch in the two-wheeler market. GoBEBA, an on-demand e-commerce logistics platform recently launched in Kenya with plans to disrupt the hyper-local on-demand logistics market in Kenya, and Rwanda’s Safemotos is hiring to launch in Kenya too.

Smaller players like Rush, BusyBoda, JuuBoda and GetBoda might not matter in this debate at this time but they are part of the entire last-mile delivery ecosystem that’s growing out of Africa and might build the continent’s fast real unicorn.

According to Peter Ndiang’ui, GoBEBA’s Founder and former OLX Kenya Country Manager, Africa’s growing young population and burgeoning middle class presents a huge opportunity for e-commerce and logistics companies but for logistics to gain widespread consumer adoption, the approach needs to be localized better than the current global players in the market.

“Urban consumers face a growing challenge of highly trafficked and crowded cities in a highly fragmented retail environment, making it difficult to access goods conveniently. With GoBEBA’s entry into the Kenyan market, we seek to address this challenge through technology by helping consumers discover and access goods from local retailers and Juakali artisans in a highly convenient way.  Furthermore, GoBEBA will enable small retailers and businesses to distribute goods in urban and peri-urban centres across the country.”

Peter is right. In Sub-Saharan Africa, consumption of goods is rising fast and is estimated to reach Ksh 200 trillion by 2025, as incomes grow and more people move into urban centers. These consumers and small businesses need multiple services from groceries, gas, parcels, food and drinks among others.

Platforms like ORide, MAX, Gokada and GoBEBA will allow users to access almost everything while owning nothing of their own by digitally connecting their on-demand logistics capabilities to suppliers and retailers across Africa.

GoBEBA is targeting to expand to other African countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana  and Ivory Coast after reaching a critical mass in East Africa.