Sep 3, 2020 - 03:12 pm

Kenyan startup rents electric motors to fishermen

In the Kenyan fishing village of Mbita, the start-up Asobo lends Torqeedo electric motors to local fishermen for a monthly fee. Included are financial advice, training, maintenance and a battery charging service with solar energy.

Asobo’s goal is to massively reduce the negative impact of fuel emissions on Lake Victoria in East Africa, the world’s second largest freshwater lake. This is because the lake’s ecosystem is threatened: “[…] with 76% of the fish species threatened by extinction. The livelihoods of 30-50 million people who, directly or indirectly, are dependent on the lake are also acutely threatened,” Torqeedo writes on their blog. One reason for the alarming situation is that the lake has been overfished for decades. Another is the enormous scale of pollution. The fishermen with their 30,000 boats also contribute to this problem.

Asobo was founded in 2019 by the Dutchman Laurens Friso and the German Wolfgang Gregor together with the venture builder Persistent Energy and is based in the Kenyan town of Mbita with 6,000 inhabitants. The startup company started business operations in February 2020. The initiators want to convince as many fishermen as possible to switch to a high-tech electric drive from Torqeedo. To this end, Asobo is purchasing units of the Cruise 4.0 T, whose propulsive power corresponds to that of an 8 HP outboard motor and leasing them to the people fishing on Lake Victoria.

Asobo is also training the fishermen to use the new electric drive efficiently, charging the Torqeedo Power 24-3500 batteries with 3.5 kWh and offering a backup service. In order to motivate the fishermen to switch, the company also uses economic arguments: The rent for an electric motor is between 20 and 25 per cent below the cost of a gasoline outboard motor per month. “Everywhere around the world, people like saving money, but in low-income countries like Kenya it is even more important,” says Laurens Friso. The actual amount of the monthly rent depends on the boat, the route and the current fuel prices.

Asobo counts being able to supply up 500 fishermen from Mbita “in the near future.” Further renting and charging stations around the lake are to follow. In the long term, this model should be able to branch out on other continents. “I hope that in a few years our business model will not just be working on Lake Victoria but in emerging markets all over the world,” says Friso. “For example, in island-rich South-East Asian countries like Indonesia or the Philippines.”

Gregor Papadopoulos, Torqeedo’s sales manager who is involved in the project, adds that the goal is to have several thousand electric outboards on Lake Victoria in a few years. “I’m assuming that by 2040 there won’t be a single petrol-powered motor on Lake Victoria.” Torqeedo has already received inquiries from business people in Uganda and Senegal who are interested in the project. Currently, the manufacturer is already equipping fishermen on the Cape Verde Islands and in South America with fully electric motors.

With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France.


5 Kommentare zu “Kenyan startup rents electric motors to fishermen

  1. Amir Somji

    Thank you for this wonderful invention using an electric boats for fishing.

    It would be a good idea also to use like a taxi boat for people from Uganda to Tanzania

  2. Kwajo Acheampong

    Dear Sir/Madam; please I also want to help the fishermen in my who are all ways struggling with the fuel prices and also as my contribution to the climate change. The pre-mix fuel in Ghana has become a big issue for the fishermen in West Africa sub region your presence over here would make a big difference and breakthrough for the fishing community. And I hope you would respond positively to me and tell me how we can also switch to electric engine to enjoy the trend. Thanks a lot for your time.

  3. Ali yusuf

    Come to kilifi county Kenyan coast

  4. Koffi Kodjo Samuel

    Bonjour chères, nous avons suivi le reportage sur WD sur les moteurs électriques et cela impressionne car depuis des années nous sommes a la recherche d’une solution similaire pour notre lac Anziessahou. Nous serons très enchanté de noué des contrats de partenariat avec vous pour l’équipement de nos bateaux. Cordialement Secrétariat du chef du village d’Anziessahou

  5. Kefa

    Just want to know the price if I want to own one.

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Found on
03.09.2020 15:28