ThinkElectric Africa is a non-profit organization with a mission to accelerate Africa’s transition to renewable energy and sustainable transport. The vision of the founder born a for profit organization called ThinkBikes Limited. ThinkBikes has started delivering its locally produced electric tricycles to customers in Nigeria.
Its electric cargo tricycle, called Alpha 1.0, is targeted at the burgeoning on demand delivery and logistics industries. Over 90% of the components are sourced locally, including the bodywork, the wheels, and the batteries. Only the electric motors are imported. The battery packs are made using re-purposed/recycled 18650 cells, similar to what other startups in this field do, such as Bodawerk in Uganda. This recycling of cells recovered from old laptops is another great example of how electric mobility promotes the circular economy. The company is assembling the battery packs from repurposed cells, which allows it to lower the costs of its products significantly to levels that are more affordable for its target market. The battery packs are 0.80 kWh. The motor is rated at 1.5 kW peak and the bikes have a range of up to 50 km when empty and 30 km when loaded.
ThinkBikes will also have a leasing service/subscription business where its clients can rent a bike on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. ThinkBikes will have a key focus on remote monitoring. One of the biggest issues observed so far in this industry is the overloading of 2- and 3-wheelers. It is common to see even 2-wheelers carrying several bags of cement. ThinkBikes’ focus on IOT-backed telematics, including payload weight data, hopes to track and minimize these issues.
Building on the work it is doing to promote the circular economy through the upcycling of 18650 cells to make its battery packs, ThinkBikes has also onboarded several waste recycling enterprises as its customers. The waste recyclers go door to door collecting waste for recycling. Some of the recycling enterprises it is working with include Givo, Chanda Datti, and Orange Strategy Recyclers. ThinkBikes has already received over 100 orders for its tricycles and is under pressure to ramp up production to meet the demand from customers. “We are under a lot of pressure, we are happy to have all this interest in our products,” says Tolulope Olukokun, the founder and CEO of ThinkBikes.
ThinkBikes has also received recognition in the form of several awards, grants, and fellowships, including:
- Siemens Stifftung 5th Place Innovation Award winner 2021
- Product Innovation award by savvy 2022
- 2nd position Climate Launch Pad (National competition) 2021
- Top 18 (CLP regional finals)
- Top 16 (CLP Global semifinals) 2021
- Top 10 (CLP global Grand Finals) 2021
ThinkBikes’ Founder and CEO has also received several awards and fellowships, including:
- Ten outstanding young persons of Nigeria award by JCI 2020
- Under-40 African Green Award 2020
- Global Youth Climate Network (GYCN) Climate ambassador 2020
- Merit Award by Nigerian Institute of mechanical engineers (NIMECHE) Ibadan 2021
- Award of excellence by Nigerian society of engineers (NSE) Ibadan 2022
- Youth entrepreneur of the year 2020
- Founder Institute Lagos 2020
- Innovation fellowship for aspiring innovators and researchers (IFair Fellow 2021/2022)
- Because International fellow 2022
- Africa Changemaker fellow 2020
- LEAP Africa Fellow (2022)
Cargo bikes have been found to be faster and much cleaner than traditional vans in the last mile logistics and distribution sectors. ThinkBikes is targeting small to medium enterprises in Nigeria’s booming logistics and delivery industry. These include farmers, agricultural processors, retailers, and general traders. It has been engaging with several customers in Ibadan, Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt. The lower operating costs of these electric tricycles and their ability to navigate the congested urban centers has been a key driver in attracting interest. It’s really good to see locally produced electric mobility options. With the ever increasing petrol costs as well as the booming last mile delivery and logistics industry for small packages, electric tricycles and bicycles are set to play a key role in this space.
All images courtesy of ThinkBikes
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