ASOBO is the first of its kind to create a sustainable platform for e-mobility services on the water in emerging markets. They provide customers with cheaper, hassle-free and clean propulsion – and ensure it always works.
To make that happen, their full-service package includes an electric engine powered by batteries, as well as daily recharging and delivery of the batteries. Furthermore, they offer necessary maintenance and repairs, training of boat owners and crew and a 24/7 helpline with rescue back-up. The package is offered on an affordable and predictable service charge.
On 25th February 2021, ASOBO officially launched their company on Lake Victoria Mbita, Kenya. The event focused on electric outboard engines, powered by lithium batteries which are recharged in renewable energy hubs, providing the customers with the most state of the art technology as well as conserve the lake and even the little resources. The event was opened by Laurens Friso, ASOBO’s CEO launching a record nine e-Boarders in Kikoda beach.
We must embrace new technology, we must live out the past and move into the future. The county government and national are certainly in full support of this driver of positive change.George Okoth, Director of Fisheries for the Homabay county
So far, ASOBO has built initial operations in Mbita, Kenya. They have hired first team members, tested the technology and secured the support of world-class partners DOEN Foundation, DEG, FMO, TOTAL, Shell Foundation, Vitol Foundation, Toyota Mobility Foundation, Persistent and E-Wave. ASOBO aim to have electrified thousands of boats and built a reliable platform for their mobility services by 2025.
ASOBO’s biggest goal is to replace 5,000 petrol engines by 2025 with electric driven ones. This will dramatically reduce negative impacts on the environment and improve the lives of millions. ASOBO will also;
- Save money that is currently wasted on fuel, oil, and maintenance.
- Save time to get fuel and repair engines
- Allow for more predictable and reliable fishing operations, increasing the resilience of customers
- Improve safety and comfort while fishing
The success achieved by ASOBO is not without challenges. The following are some of the challenges they have encountered in entering the electric mobility market in Kenya which have also been experienced by similar companies:
- Access to talent: since the sector, the business model and technology are all new, it is hard to find affordable and suitable talent, especially local talent. This holds across different roles and expertise.
- Tax regime: Current regime does not fully stimulate electric engines and their accessories. This makes already higher start-up costs even higher.
- Customer and stakeholder knowledge on e-mobility: e-mobility is a new development, especially on the water. For large-scale adoption, the customers and broader stakeholders need to be made aware of the reliability of the technology and the benefits e-mobility has in general.
- Appropriate technology and infrastructure: Finding suitable technology globally and recharging infrastructure locally are crucial to building a business that is viable and scalable.