They See Me Rollin’: Let’s Talk Mobility in Emerging Markets
2019 is a landmark year for tech-enabled mobility platforms. Lyft completed an IPO last week, with Uber projecting its own public listing in the coming months. Interest in “smart-cities” has generated particular buzz in transportation topics ranging from driverless vehicles to movement patterns and last-mile-logistics. But while ride-sharing services in the developed world arose to improve the utilization of private cars, in emerging markets they serve a large mobility gap left by aggressive urbanization.
Uber bought its middle-east rival Careem in a $3.1 billion deal last month — in part because of Middle-East Unicorn’s ability to cater to local needs like cash payment and female-focused customer service across MENA. Earlier this year SoftBank’s Vision Fund deployed $1.46B into South East Asia’s Grab, a company that made a differentiating name for itself through its Durian-delivery. It is neck-and-neck with Indonesia’s Go-Jek for dominance in the region, with both companies expanding beyond mobility to banking and other “Super-App” services. Although off limits to US investors Iran’s Snapp has hit 2 million rides-a-day in Tehran, a larger service than in any city operated by Uber.
Technology platforms have to solve for complex mobility patterns that are quite diverse amongst cities in emerging markets — as found by a World Bank study comparing Bangalore, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, São Paulo and Shanghai. Reliance on walking and biking ranged from 18% in Bangalore to 56% in Shanghai. Cars were 5% of the modal share in Bangalore but 31% in São Paulo. Indonesia’s Go-jek, for example, is evidence of a local solution, focused early on popular motorcycle-taxis that can weave through Jakarta’s infamous traffic.
Ride-hailing apps also have the opportunity to challenge the status-quo by helping to finance drivers’ use of cleaner and safer technology. India is an example where this has occurred: there are more E-rickshaws in India — often financed by transport apps — than electric cars sold in China under intense policy pressure. The possible savings for both energy use and CO2 emissions are immense: fully electrifying three-wheelers by 2050 would lower energy consumption by 75% and CO2 emissions by 18%.
The universal law of commuting dictates that humans — including most of us at Flat World– will spend no more than 1 hour a day on their commutes. To meet the mobility needs of their populations, megacities in the developing world cannot rely on a personal car-centric society like in the US, nor expect the plethora of public infrastructure in Europe.
Derek Brooks, Asset Management
While retreating from Singapore with sale of its local operations to Grab, Uber buys Dubai-based rival Careem in an estimated $3.1 billion deal, dominating ride-hailing in Middle East and North Africa.
FlexClub is a South African startup that matches investors and drivers to cars for ride-hailing services. Investors purchase a car on the site (ultimately managed by FlexClub). The startup then connects that car to a ride-hail app driver. Rental fees generate monthly, fixed-rate interest income for the investor, with the option of the driver buying the car after the 12 months.
Race cars should be seen, not heard. The electric car prix “Formula E” is back in the Big Apple on July 13 and 14. 22 electric race cars battle on the streets of Brooklyn.
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