Motorbike taxis in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Africa is the world's fastest urbanizing region, but limited public transit in most cities has led to severely congested roads, creating an acute need for investment and innovation in transportation.

Why it matters: Traffic takes a toll on both economic output and quality of life in Africa's megacities. But with mobile phone penetration approaching 50%, new technology platforms could help motorbike taxis and other services bridge the gaps in the continent's urban transportation systems.

Context: The average commuter in Lagos, Nigeria, spends 30 hours a week in traffic, so it's no surprise residents there and in other large cities are looking for new options. 

  • Competition in car ride sharing is strong as local startups compete with Uber and Estonia's successful Bolt (Taxify), fueled by investments from Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi.
  • For the upper middle class, these services have provided more transport options, but without meaningfully reducing congestion.

What's happening: Building on the interest in new mobility companies, investors are now backing new motorbike and bus ride-sharing start-ups that serve lower income customers to the tune of nearly $100 million.

Where it stands: Riders have been drawn to these companies, which offer a new measure of safety in the often accident-prone motorbike markets. They provide helmets, ensure drivers are trained and help if there is an accident — big steps up from the preexisting motorbike taxi market, which was informal and unaccountable — and many offer driver services such as insurance products and asset financing for motorbikes.

What to watch: The race among non-car based platforms will only grow more heated as they compete to increase motorbike ownership, provide maintenance, attract and retain both drivers and customers, master payment technologies and raise new rounds of funding.

Aubrey Hruby is a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council's Africa Center.

Go deeper

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Mitt Romney says he'll support moving forward with Supreme Court pick

Photo: Greg Nash/AFP/Pool via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Tuesday that he would support moving forward with a Senate vote on President Trump's selection to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Why it matters: Barring any big surprises, Democrats have virtually no shot at stopping the confirmation process for the president’s nominee before November’s election.

Dave Lawler, author of World
31 mins ago - World

In UN address, Trump says China "unleashed this plague onto the world"

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump used a virtual address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to defend his response to the coronavirus and call on other countries to “hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.”

Setting the scene: Trump ticked through four years of major decisions and accomplishments in what could be his last address to the UN. But first, he launched into a fierce attack on China as Beijing’s representative looked on in the assembly hall.

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 31,361,979 — Total deaths: 965,642— Total recoveries: 21,528,674Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 6,859,117 — Total deaths: 199,911 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Wall Street fears stimulus is doomed.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!