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Transforming last mile delivery in Africa

As the impact of the COVID-19 reverberates around the world, crippling businesses and economies, and leaving governments scrambling to respond, a handful of industries are seeing increasing opportunities to do more, not less.

E-commerce businesses and the delivery companies that connect them to customers belong to this class. And nowhere are these opportunities emerging more forcefully than in the urban centres of emerging economies like Nigeria, where the room to grow is plentiful and the people quick to adapt to new ways of doing business.

Enter Khalil Halilu, who, all his life, has been finding and seizing business opportunities, and is now positioning his latest venture as the missing piece of the puzzle for Nigeria’s challenging delivery logistics landscape.

“Nobody anticipated that such a disruptive event like this pandemic would come to define 2020,” he says.
“Now that it’s here, and we are all forced to adapt to a new normal, there is no doubt in my mind that delivery companies are seeing a massive opportunity to make themselves more impactful in the marketplace.”

Khalil’s ShapShap – a pidgin English word that translates as ‘Urgently’ – is an app-based start-up that connects online retailers, potential customers, and a network of riders.

It has been designed as a one-stop-shop for everyone making or fulfilling an online order.
“African economies are majorly driven by SMEs, and logistics remains a major issue for them, so what we’ve done is build a technology to make transactions seamless between customers and vendors,” Halilu says.
On offer is an array of mobility platforms, not just motorbikes: roller-skates, bicycles, tricycles, cars and vans are also available; accompanied by a variety of instant payment options.

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Here’s where it gets even more interesting. ShapShap is backed up by unprecedented market research; a cache of data and insights that Halilu says gives it unassailable competitive advantage.

Lagos, Nigeria, where ShapShap has rolled out, is the most populous city in Africa, and one of the fastest growing in the world. By 2050 it is estimated that it will be the fifth or sixth largest megacity on the planet.

It is also one of the few cities in the world of its size without a city-wide railway system, compelling everyone to travel by road. It is therefore not unusual for many people to spend three to four hours sitting in traffic every day, on their daily commute.

It’s a real problem for anyone needing to move around, or to have goods delivered. But that’s only one side of the story. The other side is the opportunity that this problem represents – an opportunity that has now been deepened by the outbreak of the pandemic.


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