Kenyan e-commerce platform Sokowatch has added electric tuk-tuks to its delivery fleet in Uganda, making the vehicles the first to be used commercially in East Africa.
Launched in Nairobi in 2016, Sokowatch aims to reinvent retail in Africa by providing real-time delivery, financing for growth, and data for business management to informal merchants.
It allows informal retailers to order products for their stores via SMS, voice call, or mobile app with free same-day delivery, and also offers customised lines of credit to retailers. Sokowatch has over 16,000 shop owners in its network, and is easing access to essential goods and services across nine major cities in East Africa.
The startup, which raised a US$14 million Series A funding round earlier this year, has now added electric tuk-tuks to its delivery fleet in Uganda. Built and assembled by a team led by Sokowatch’s head mechanic and engineer Mary Nankinga, the new tuk-tuks mark a company-wide push at Sokowatch to build cleaner and more sustainable environments in its operating markets.
Built by Gayam Motor Works, the Indian EV manufacturer whose clients include Amazon, IKEA and Flipkart, the new fleet of vehicles take just three hours to charge overnight and last for approximately two-to-three days. The electric tuk-tuks also deliver to an estimated 35 shops per day within two hours of orders being placed and can carry 500kg in goods for the retailers.
“In Kampala, air quality is six times worse than global standards and as a company built around improving the livelihoods of local communities, we took the direct approach to address the issue,” said Sokowatch’s country manager for Uganda Peter Muzoora.
“We launched in Kampala last year and when we arrived, we made a commitment to be a business that would add and not take away from our local communities and the launch of our electric tuk-tuks shows this wasn’t just lip-service. Every day, we witness the impact of carbon emissions and noise pollution on this city, which is why this project is so important and also why we’re proud to be a company leading active change in Kampala.”