Putting 10,000 EVs on African roads, the hard way

  • In less than two years, Cotonou-headquartered EV company Spiro has put more than 10,000 e-bikes on roads across four African countries.
  • But experts believe the company is incurring huge costs that will make its business unsustainable in the long term.

For nearly five years, Dandao Simon, a bike-taxi driver in the port city of Cotonou, Benin, took only 30% of his daily income home — he had to spend most of his earnings on refueling and repairing his gas-powered motorbike. But in 2023, Simon heard of Spiro, a local startup that offered new electric two-wheelers in exchange for old motorcycles, without any upfront costs. The company had also set up several battery-swapping stations in Cotonou for e-bike owners. 

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