Indian-owned company to launch ‘scooty’ in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA: The Indian footprint in Africa just got bigger with Balaaji Manufacturing Plc, an Indian-owned company, launching the brand new electrical motorcycle, popularly known as “scooty”, assembled in Ethiopia.

The “scooty” brand, which has endeared itself to customers in India, is set to cash in on the Ethiopian market, where more and more people have taken to two-wheelers over the past three years, which has made the market grow at an annual pace of about 30 per cent.

“We believe that there is market for our products and these motorcycles are the pollution free alternatives compared to the same means of transport which consumes fuel”, Arun Jindal, general manager of Balaaji Manufacturing, told IANS.

“We are getting quite good response in the market. So in the future, we are planning to increase our investment in Ethiopia. Currently we are working in a different capacity and … for now the production is 10 bikes which will be to 30 per day after two months.”

The company located in Addis Ababa’s Legetafo area in the Oromia regional state, began its factory operations in 2014 on a 3,600 sq metre plot of land with an initial capital of $275,000 and began production in January, this year.

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The scooties are eco-friendly, low expense vehicles, causing no noise pollution, or vibration. They also boast of maintenance-free batteries, stability alarm (remote control), push button start, auto lock and voice alert locking system for parking.

These electric bikes run at about 60kmph and one charge of six-to-eight-hours enables a ride of over 60km. The makers believe that the bike is competitive and unique in its segment.

“We have more competitive advantage in the market because of their appealing look. Ethiopia is a beautiful country and not yet affected much by carbon emission … So this is the step to go green and to provide with materials that are eco-friendly”, Jindal said.

The bikes would help people navigate through the congested streets of Ethiopia, where a number of construction projects have made movement slow and onerous, according to Abel Mebrahtu, an engineer working for a private company.

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“These bikes are really important for people like me who rush in the mornings to make it to the office and to get back home early”, Abel told IANS just when leaving a dealers’ shop.

“It is not just for their convenience on the road, but also they are comfortable, (have) no fuel consumption and mostly they are affordable”.

According to the company, the tentative price of one scooty is 25,000 Birr, which is equivalent to $1,219. It has now amassed $450,000 of total capital.

The owner of the Hirut High Tech Moter Bikes showroom, Hirut, said that people flocked to know more about the bikes.

“In the busy hours of Addis Ababa or even in other towns, using bikes is the ideal solution these days because of the massive construction throughout the country”, Hirut told IANS.

“I got into this business because this is a new product and that we were sure there is a demand and also people are changing into this trend because traffic jam is causing shortage of transport,” she added.

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