In the vibrant streets of Soweto, South Africa, SHOVeBIKE, an urban mobility logistics startup, is revolutionizing last-mile delivery with eco-friendly solutions.
The company says its mission “is to create greener, healthier, and more vibrant urban environments by reducing congestion and carbon emissions. We’re passionate about sustainability, efficiency, and community well-being.”
The air quality in Soweto is a pressing concern as highlighted by the Swiss IQ Air Quality Index report. As per the findings, South Africa’s air pollution levels are 4.7 times above the World Health Organization’s annual guideline. In Soweto specifically, the measure for ultrafine particles in the air is currently 4.3 times the recommended value.
Shaking up last-mile delivery in SA
Founder and CEO Zakhele Mhlanga envisions a future where cycling is not just a choice but a cultural shift, promising cleaner air and less congested roads.
“With the continent’s growing young population, the majority of whom walk or use public transport for their commutes, the potential for the future of bikeshare is enormous,” says Mhlanga.
With the right policies and resources, South Africa – and the African continent as a whole – could see a significant drop in road fatalities, traffic congestion, and CO2 emissions.
According to SHOVeBIKE business development manager, Raymond Rampolokeng, the eco-friendly bike can carry 70 kilograms in the front load bin, with a 170-kilogram trailer, offering ample space without the need for a license.
The company is also developing an app to enhance its efficiency. With the app, riders can monitor e-bike usage, schedule maintenance, and track their locations to ensure a seamless delivery experience.
The innovative e-bike was showcased at the Smarter Mobility Africa Summit in October, where South Africa’s deputy president, Paul Mashatile, said “smart mobility holds immense potential for economic development in Africa, including in the digital economy [opening] up new opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The bigger picture
Rapid global population growth brings with it an increase in inequality. It poses risks to development, peace, and security. The United Nations predicts a population surge to 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.7 billion by 2050.
According to Mashatile, it is “significant that of the two billion people who will be added to the population, half will come from Africa. In light of the accelerated urbanization expected over the next few years, governments […] must prioritize urban planning policies responsive to these changes.”
As cities continue to expand and traditional transport becomes strained, strategies to create sustainable environments – such as the SHOVeBIKE initiative – will ensure a future where the quality of life is enhanced and equitable development for all is a given.
About the author
Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.