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Safeboda to Exit Kenya from November 27

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Safeboda

By Adedapo Adesanya

Ugandan ride-hailing startup, SafeBoda, has announced its intentions to terminate operations in Kenya from Friday, November 27, 2020.

In a statement via its official Twitter handle, the company announced that it would cease operations in the East African country due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus ) pandemic.

The startup, which launched in Kenya’s capital in 2018, stated that while Nairobi has gradually started to recover from the pandemic, boda transportation has been hit hard.

According to Safeboda, “This has meant our business cannot sustainably operate in this environment and unfortunately the timeline for a full recovery is not certain.”

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During its 2 years of operations, SafeBoda onboarded over 4,000 riders who have successfully completed millions of trips. However, this latest move will see thousands of its boda riders and call centre operators thrown into the unemployment market.

The exit is also likely to affect the cost of business operations-particularly for small and medium scale enterprises who have so far benefitted from its presence.

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The year 2020 has been rocky for many economies globally and African countries like Kenya have suffered a heavy blow. Unemployment rates in the East African country increased to 10.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 from 5.20 per cent in the first quarter due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within the past five years, jobs in Kenya’s non-agricultural sector have grown significantly, even though agriculture remains the largest employer of labour.

According to a report, the country’s ICT sector has been estimated to contribute up to 8 per cent to its gross domestic product through IT-enabled services (ITES) and create 250,000 jobs by the end of 2020, now analysts see these figures drastically reducing.

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SafeBoda is a community of entrepreneurs and boda drivers that is revolutionizing transportation, payments, and on-demand services in Africa’s cities and believes that everyone in African cities should have access to affordable services at a click of a button.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Bolt Helps Drivers with New Cash Out Service

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taxify to bolt

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

The ride-hailing platform, Bolt, has created a cash withdrawal service for drivers to provide early access to cash out earned on the platform from cashless payment methods and other earnings. Drivers can now take away the cash they earn whenever they need to.

Although there are limitations as the cash out service is available to drivers once a day with a transaction fee of N15 to the bank.

The feature is also active for existing drivers who have been on the platform for up to two weeks and have completed at least 25 trips without any irregularities.

In a statement, Bolt said this new initiative is mainly to improve the general experience for every driver in addition to the lower fees and commissions of 15 per cent it charges its drivers. This has also made it possible for riders to enjoy cheaper fares on the platform.

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Speaking on the introduction of the new service, Bolt Country Manager in Nigeria, Mr Femi Akin-Laguda, thanked the drivers for being part of the company’s growth.

“Drivers are core to our business and we must continue to retain the trust and loyalty we have earned over the years by fulfilling our promise to keep improving the overall experience for every driver,” he said.

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“The early cash out option improves liquidity for our drivers’ by ensuring that they have easier and faster access to their earnings; this will include fares for trips paid with cashless options like cards, driver bonuses and payments for passenger discounts.

“Our aim is to ensure that our drivers have flexibility in how they access their earnings while passengers will be more confident to request rides with any payment method they wish,” Mr Akin-Laguda added, assuring that Bolt will remain affordable and reliable.

The system makes payments directly to drivers’ bank accounts, while requests during business hours will be processed in less than an hour, with requests outside these hours on business days processed on the same day.

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Furthermore, early cash out requests made on weekends and holidays will be processed on the following business day.

Bolt has continued to set the pace with driver experience initiatives in the ride-hailing sector.

Recently, the platform launched a vehicle financing scheme that enables drivers to be their own boss by owning a car with low equity repayment.

With over 10,000 drivers on its platform, Bolt provides a safe, reliable, and affordable service for passengers across more than 25 cities in Nigeria and is a smart way to move around in cities.

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Firms Offer Prospective Car Owners Quick Loans

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Cheap Loans

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

Efforts are being made to ensure that prospective car owners in Nigeria have access to quick loans, thanks to the collaborative moves of some companies.

An automotive technology firm, Autochek, is partnering with a fintech software company, Appzone, to allow Nigerians to have access to credit from over 400 microfinance institutions across the country.

In a statement, Autochek said users would be able to access Appzone’s proprietary digital core banking service, BankOne, to get a quick digital credit facility to purchase a car of their choice.

In 24 hours, the customers will receive multiple offers and have the option to select their most preferred financial partner.

Appzone transitions all accepted loan applications into BankOne’s proprietary credit administration module which automatically enables the account opening, underwriting and final payment. The customer is now able to get a transparent step by step update throughout the whole process.

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The Chief Technology Officer at Autochek, Chetan Seth, while commenting on the partnership, stated that, “As much of Sub-Saharan Africa, obtaining access to financing in Nigeria is a tedious process.

“At Autochek, we are committed to providing consumers with seamless access to credit in order for them to own their vehicles.

“With technology, we are able to provide vehicle financing at scale, and this will be accelerated even further by integrating with Appzone’s network.

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“We are very much customer-focused and we operate in an on-demand economy, we, therefore, recognize the need to efficiently provide a plethora of options for customers to access loans from; our partnership with Appzone will enable us to further increase their options through access to the microfinance banks currently available on their platform.”

Also commenting, Mr Mudiaga Umukoro, the CEO of Appzone Core, a subsidiary company of Appzone Group said, “BankOne is our flagship product and Africa’s foremost Banking-as-a Platform (BaaP) solution.

“Over the last 10 years, we have focused on digitizing the microfinance sector. We have enabled over 400 microfinance institutions spread across the entire country, with the capability for fully digital banking operations and now through our partnership with Autochek, these Institutions available can now provide quick digital loans to prospective car owners anywhere in Nigeria.

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“What this ensures is a win-win approach as MFBs can target more customers as well as increase revenue through loan offerings, whilst customers across the country, either in urban or remote areas, are more easily empowered with business and/or personal vehicles with little hassle.”

In Africa, an automobile is worth $45 billion a year, with only a 5 per cent financing penetration rate. Autochek’s partnership with Appzone is geared towards upending that figure and giving the power to the customer.

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Dangote Cement Buys $150m Trucks to Distribute Products

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Dangote Cement Trucks

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Over 2,000 trucks worth $150 million have been acquired by Dangote Cement Plc to aid the smooth distribution of its products across Nigeria.

The heavy-duty vehicles trucks purchased by the leading cement maker included trailers, bulk tankers, tippers, cargo trucks and bulk cement tankers.

Dangote Cement is optimistic that these assets would address challenges related to the ease of distribution and availability of cement across the country, especially among its value-chain service providers and create employment of over 4,000 people in the country.

In addition, the newly acquired trucks are expected to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Dangote Cement Logistics network of distribution nationwide, as the company plans to commission its new cement plant in Okpella Edo State in a few weeks.

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Besides, Dangote Fertiliser, which recently made a grand entry into the market, has already taken delivery of 500 trucks from Dangote Sinotruk West Africa Limited (a joint venture between Dangote Industries Limited and Sinotruk China) for the distribution of Urea to different States in Nigeria.

“We have acquired the new trucks in line with our new expansion capacity in Obajana, Ibese, Gboko and the new cement plant at Okpella.

“The acquisition is due to the growing needs of the business, especially as regards the increased trucking demands encountered lately, due to the surge in the demand for cement,” the Group Executive Director in charge of Logistics and Distribution at Dangote Industries Limited, Mr Abdu Dantata, stated.

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“The establishment of our clinker export terminals at Apapa and Onne Port led to the purchase of heavy-duty tippers for haulage of clinker from the plants to the terminals.

“The introduction of these trucks would improve customers’ demand, improve on job creation in the country, as well as promote the economic development of Nigeria,” he added.

Mr Dantata disclosed that the company takes seriously the issue of safety of truck drivers and road users, which necessitated the collaboration between the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the company to attain zero tolerance to road crashes in the country. He said the company has embarked on adequate training on effective driving techniques.

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According to him, the collaboration involves recertification of drivers, pre-trip and post-trip inspection, drug test, real-time tracking of vehicles, root cause analysis, convoy movement, checkpoint policy and sanctions among several others.

The locally assembled Sinotruk Howo trucks came in as semi-knocked-down kits (SKD), which were effectively assembled and commissioned for operations.

Mr Dantata, who coordinates the group Logistic and Transport function, assured that the Dangote Sinotruk would continue the importation of semi-knocked-down kits into the assembling plant to support customers’ demand and improve on job creation in the country.

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