Rest of World investigated the efforts of Spiro, a Benin-based e-bike manufacturer, who put 10,000 e-bikes on roads in Benin, Togo, Rwanda, and Kenya with mixed results:
Spiro makes money from the EV batteries in its vehicles and from the around 600 battery-swapping stations it has set up in four countries, co-CEO Jules Samain told Rest of World. The company’s success has so far been impressive, but EV experts warn it could struggle in the future due to its capital-intensive business model.
Incurring the entire cost of vehicles to bring users into the swapping network is not feasible in the long run, Toffene Kama, principal investor at Mercy Corps Ventures, an impact-focused fund that backs e-mobility in Africa, told Rest of World. “You just take existing bikes, throw them out, and give the customer a new electric bike. But if you do that, you probably will need to compensate for that with a higher cost of energy, which can be a problem as well,” Kama said.
The part that stuck out to me was how Spiro was “founded in 2019 by Africa Transformation and Industrialization Fund (ATIF), an Abu Dhabi-based investment firm”. My cynical brain make me think this is too close to greenwashing.