Ecommerce startup Gozem expands its ride hailing services to Gabon

GABONGozem, a West African-based eCommerce startup which offers ride-hailing, logistics, food delivery, and fintech services, has launched in Gabon with a taxi-booking app.

This is the first time Gozem will spread its operations outside West Africa. As it were, its focus is currently on Francophone African markets.

Residents of Libreville, Gabon’s capital, can now access digital ride-hailing services on the Gozem app, as the service is not yet available outside the city.

Gozem’s operations initially spanned only cities in the Republic of Benin and Togo — two West African countries. Both have a larger population than Gabon´s 2.5 million populace.

“Gabon is quite attractive as it’s a wealthier country as measured by GDP than our existing markets, and it’s significantly wealthier as measured by GDP per capita,” the startup’s CEO and Co-founder, Emeka Ajene, said.

The ride-hailing service will carry out operations similar to Uber and Bolt. Charges will be based on the distance covered. Payment can be made with cash, credit cards, Airtel Money, or the Moove Money Fintech platform.

“Our immediate focus is on providing a high-quality, reliable taxi service in that city, and then expanding the range of services we offer to Libreville’s population.”

Emeka Ajene – CEO and Co-founder, Gozem

The ride-hailing feature is the only service Gabonese users will find on the app at the moment and it is only available in Libreville, the capital city.

“Our immediate focus is on providing a high-quality, reliable taxi service in that city, and then expanding the range of services we offer to Libreville’s population,” Ajene said.

Launching a taxi service in Gabon helps the company “diversify away from our beginnings as a 100% motorcycle-taxi oriented platform.”

With Libreville in the mix, Gozem now operates in 10 cities across West and Central Africa. Ajene notes that most are not capital cities.

“We’ve developed an in-house capability to operate effectively in secondary cities in the region and there are one or two additional cities that you might ultimately see Gozem operating in in Gabon,” he said.

One point of curiosity in this expansion is that Gabon is a smaller country by population compared to Togo (~8 million) and Benin (~ 12 million). Ajene acknowledges that but explains that purchasing power is another consideration that bears on expansion plans.

-Raphael Dana, Gozem co-founder, says the launch responds to the needs of the Gabonese population and aligns with Gozem’s long-term plan to organise transport and commerce in Africa around the ongoing smartphone and internet revolution.

“Our ambition is to consolidate our status as the premier super app in Africa, and this expansion to Central Africa, our first foray outside of West Africa, also allows us to prepare our upcoming expansion to Cameroon,” Dana said.

The expansion to Cameroon is on the calendar for this year; DR Congo is also being explored. Beyond moving into new countries to enable taxis however, Gozem plans to make its other verticals compete with incumbents in the markets they currently operate.

“We have robust food & e-commerce delivery verticals, we’re beginning to see a significant impact coming from our vehicle financing vertical as well, and our plans for our full-service wallet are still on track,” Ajene said.

Since its launch in 2018 and early beginnings in Togo as a motorcycle ride-hailing startup, Gozem has made its ambition to be Africa’s no.1 super app very clear.

Today, the app has diverse verticals in electronic transportation, food delivery, eCommerce, logistics, and financial services, with customers’ needs the determinant of further expansion.

Gozem is not the first African-based startup with super app ambitions. Startups like OPay in Nigeria and CanGo in Central Africa began with similar aspirations.

CanGo unexpectedly shut down in January 2020, while certain challenges peculiar to the Lagos State market proved to be a stumbling block to OPay, which dropped the ambition and focused on fintech.

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