(Bloomberg) -- A Nigerian startup backed by private-equity firm Lightrock LLP is looking to deploy electric vehicles in about eight African countries by next year as demand grows for investment in low-emission transport.

Metro Africa Xpress Inc. raised $31 million last year to develop an EV market on the continent, a challenging task due to the chronic power shortage in the region. The firm plans to enter nations including Egypt, Cameroon and Uganda by 2023 compared with just Nigeria and Ghana now, according to Chief Executive Officer Adetayo Bamiduro.

The investment will expand the company’s number of cars to 100,000 by next year from 8,000 currently, with the percentage of electric vehicles rising to 20% from 4%, Bamiduro said in an interview. The company is aiming to have a fleet entirely made up of EVs in the next 10 to 15 years, he said. 

“For African economies to be productive, it’s important for people and goods to be able to move around efficiently and safely,” he said.

Max has partnerships with vehicle producers such as Yamaha Corp. and ride-hailing platform Bolt Technology OU as well as financial services firms to link cars to drivers. Although only a small percentage of the fleet is currently electric due to inadequate charging infrastructure and a shortage of power on the continent, the business has the potential to grow as African governments encourage investment in renewables to curb emissions.

The company is investing in charging points in Nigeria and Ghana, Bamiduro said. Max previously raised more than $70 million to finance its drivers from investors including Lightrock and Global Ventures, a UAE-based international venture-capital firm.


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