UGANDA – Motorcycle-hailing startup SafeBoda has officially commenced operations in Nigeria with a launch in Ibadan, the country’s third largest city.

Initially launched in Kampala, SafeBoda connects passengers with motorcycle taxi drivers, while also offering additional financial services.

This comes a few months after the startup initially proposed a launch in early 2020. Prior to this, the startup had been giving small hints on its plans to expand to Nigeria.

The company, which has origin from Uganda and has branches in Kenya and now Ibadan, Nigeria, according to its officials, is set to revamp the ‘okada’ industry by putting safe, tested and trusted motorbikes on the roads to curb insecurity, boost convenience and make lives easy for riders and passengers alike.

The startup expanded to Kenya in 2018 and raised an undisclosed Series B funding round in the middle of 2019 to help it deepen its platform and expand to additional new markets.

Nigeria was always the primary target in that regard, and though the process has taken longer than many expected it has now launched in the West African country.

“Ibadan is a great city rich in culture and highly educational. With approximately 4.5 million people and a thriving okada culture, it felt like the right place to set up and learn the ropes of the Nigerian market,” said Babajide Duroshola, SafeBoda’s Nigeria country head.

Earlier this year, the Lagos State government officially banned motorcycles and tricycles in large parts of the state, posing a serious problem to transport-tech startups looking to streamline the motorcycle taxi industry in the congested city.

Duroshola, however, said SafeBoda’s decision to move to Ibadan was made before the Lagos ban kicked in.

“For now, our focus is to grow our Ibadan market to ensure SafeBoda becomes a household name,” he said.

This means it is uncertain if the orange-branded motorcycle-hailing company will launch in Nigeria’s largest city. Safeboda faces stiff competition from other players like ORide and, it will be interesting to see how SafeBoda performs in this market with already established players.

In terms of the fleet of motorcycles, Duroshola says that although the company has launched with a few hundred motorcycles, the number of requests it has had so far means it will need to supply more motorcycles to meet demand.