East African e-commerce platform Sokowatch, has announced the launch of electric tuk tuks to its delivery fleet in Uganda, making the vehicles the first to be used commercially in East Africa.
Auto rickshaws, commonly known as tuk-tuks, are a fixture on the roads of Thailand’s capital Bangkok.
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 3 hours to charge overnight and last for approximately 2-3 days. The electric tuk tuks also deliver to an estimated 35 shops per day within 2 hours of orders being placed and can carry 500kg in goods for the retailers.
The electric tuktuk runs on lithium-ion battery—known for producing fewer emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles.
Each electric tuktuk is said to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas by up to 4.18 tons per year, according to studies by EnConLab and KMUTT.
Sokowatch’s Country Manager for Uganda, Peter Muzoora, says “In Kampala, air quality is 6x 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.
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.”
The new electric tuk tuks will play a critical role in Sokowatch’s service, which employs tech-enabled solutions to improve supply chain inefficiencies for informal retailers.
In Africa’s cities alone, there are more than 10 million informal shops selling over $180 billion worth of goods every year. Despite their importance to local economies, these shops routinely stock out of products, have limited access to financial services, and lack proper business management tools.
However, Sokowatch enables informal retailers to order products at any time via SMS or mobile app and receive free same-day delivery to their store. Using historic purchasing data, the platform also evaluates retailers to provide them with access to credit and other financial services typically not available to informal businesses.
The B2B e-commerce platform connecting African retail stores with multinational companies such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble, raised a $2 million seed round led by 4DX Ventures in 2018, and this year went on to raise $14 million Series A to help build toward its mission of revamping supply-chain markets for Africa’s informal retailers.
Three-wheeled passenger rickshaws also known as tuk-tuk are a common sight in countries like India, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania. Until recently, they were unknown to Ugandans.
But today, Kampala is served by at least four rickshaws that operate from the outskirts of Nakawa, Bugolobi, Kamwokya and Kawempe driving passengers every day to central Kampala.
Resting on three small wheels – one in front and two on the rear, the tuk-tuk has a small cabin for the driver in the front and a covered seating for three passengers in relative comfort. It is fitted with a two-stroke engine and has handlebar controls instead of a steering wheel and a roof.
The tuk-tuk is named after the sound its two-stroke engine makes when it is idling.
UJA House, Bombo Rd,
Keti Falawo Zone, Kawempe Division
Kampala – Uganda