Exclusive: Africa is completely ready for wide-use of electric vehicles and in 5 years time half of the vehicles on Africa’s roads will be electric

Q: How would you describe MAX to a layman?

  • Max is a vehicle subscription platform similar to Netflix where you don’t have to buy DVDs anymore, you just pay a monthly subscription to get unlimited access to the company’s catalog. 
  • Max is a vehicle subscription and a financial services platform that solves some of the biggest pain points that taxi drivers and commercial transport operators have. Our customers are essentially taxi drivers and commercial transport operators, and what we do for them in simple terms is to provide them with electric and low-emission vehicles. In addition to that we also provide these drivers with insurance, healthcare, a digital wallet, maintenance plans for the vehicles and battery swapping stations. 
  • In a nutshell, Max is a platform that provides vehicles and other essential services to taxi drivers and commercial transport operators so that they can carry out their businesses in a very convenient, comfortable and productive way. 

Q: In your own words, describe the problems Max solves in Africa?

  • Productivity is a primary concern for Max. In Max’s specific case we enable the continent to be productive by delivering impact and technology that cuts across mobility , financial inclusion, sustainability and job creation. 
  • Africa has a very large youth population, and with this comes a necessity to unlock their potential. Unfortunately the government has failed in this regard. Because of this we at Max posed the question of how to address the problem of youth empowerment through access to funding. We also looked at some of the problems around access to bank accounts, and digital payments and wallets, solving problems around safety, and solving problems around sensitization and training. The goal to address these pain points embody’s Max’s objectives.
  • Max is about unlocking the potential of young Africans, and we are doing this by providing them access to vehicle finance and subscription, with a zero down payment. As long as you pass a very simple test, you can get everything you need to start working as a respected taxi driver and commercial transport operator.

Q: What is the sustainability plan for Max, considering that Africa is currently ill-equipped to fully embrace the wide use of electric vehicles (EVs)?

  • Max’s sustainability plan is fundamentally about driving a wholesale transition to clean mobility. The way Max is doing this is by focusing on 3 main areas, 1, investing in electric vehicles, 2 investing in electric vehicle infrastructures and 3, investing in an electric vehicles subscription plan that democratizes access to EV tools for everyone who would love to use electric vehicles. 
  • We are designing and manufacturing EVs ourselves, and we are also working with other EV manufacturers to design the best EVs for Africa. 
  • A huge part of our initiative is investing in EV infrastructures like the charging stations, the battery swapping stations, and all of the analytics and IOTs that are required to effectively manage an EV platform. 
  • It does look as if Africa is not ready, but people are ready, what is not ready is investment funding in the space. As is evident, Africa is very quick to adopt change.Africa has adopted the use of mobile money at an incredible rate. The continent also has some of the most sophisticated financial service platforms in the world in terms of speed and user-experience. So there is no question about the readiness of Africans to embrace electric mobility, where the challenge lies is that there is not enough financial investment in this sort of venture, despite the promise of very high rewards for those courageous enough to invest.

Q: What inspired the creation of Max?

  • Africa’s young population are very driven, very energetic, very intelligent and very open to change. That tremendous energy, desire and passion on the continent is fuel enough for any innovator out there.
  • Africa contributes a significantly low amount to global emissions, however, the negative impact of climate change in Africa is one of the worst hits, and if we don’t do something about it, it could destroy our environment. 
  • Africa is urbanizing very very quickly, people are moving to urban cities in search of economic opportunities, but also urban areas are being heavily polluted by petrol engines. There are all kinds of pollution that is scaling in Africa’s urban areas. One important way to cut back on this is to aggressively drive the adoption of electric vehicles. 
  • When you look across the continent, motorcycles and tricycles are the most widely used vehicles amongst young people. For us it’s not a question of whether these vehicles will still be widely used for years to come, but how to transition these vehicles from petrol use to electric. 
  • If we are going to increase productivity, life expectancy of our citizens, and minimize the onset of all kinds of mental and physical diseases that are proliferating today, we have to make our cities cleaner and much more sustainable. Deploying EVs, and charging infrastructures is a critical part of this puzzle.

Q: How long do you think it would take before Africa is fully electric?

  • Across the continent today, about 400,000 2-wheelers and 3-wheelers are being deployed every month on the continent. The percentage of these vehicles which are electric is still very little, less than 5000. Within the next 5 years, given the expectations around accelerating and increasing the amount of investment in space, I expect that at least 50% of the new vehicles that will be on the road in terms of 2 and 3-wheelers will be electric. 
  • Between now and 2027, I expect at least 200,000 electric 2 and 3-wheelers to be deployed every month on the continent. So I’d say 5 years out. For a total replacement, I’d say 10-15 years out. 

Q: What is the intersection between electric vehicles and mental health, seeing as mental health is a huge focus area for Max?

  • In our collective quest around the world to make the planet safer and to reduce carbon emission, we have all realized that we need to make our planet sustainable, and that’s why we have what is called the sustainable development goals, which are a shared set of goals across the world. 
  • EVs will help us achieve a few things, 1 is to lower emissions, and by lowering emissions, we will have cleaner air. By shifting to EVs we will experience lower operating costs, because combustion engines are much more expensive to maintain. Also combustion engines make a ton of noise, so we will have saner communities with less noise pollution. 
  • All of these things play a critical role in restoring sanity to our communities that have been historically plagued by all manner of pollution. So overall quality of life will improve, and that in itself will help improve our collective mental state. There is a very strong connection between electric mobility, how it reduces emissions, lowers noise pollution, delivers more sanity to our communities and that overall helps our collective mental state as a society. 

Q: What is that one personal experience you’ve faced that made you identify that mental health is something Max can influence?

  • If we are not mentally healthy, we will ultimately harm each other, we will find ourselves continuing to damage our communities and planets. So an enlightened self interest from my own point of view is, what role do I personally have to play in ensuring that our young people are empowered, enabled to be able to achieve their full potential? 
  • All of us move around on a daily basis. So if you’re inhaling carbon and nitrogen oxide on a daily basis, ultimately that doesn’t add to your own physical or mental wellbeing. For me personally, because of my deep interest and passion for unlocking the full potential of young people across the continent, I am taking full ownership and playing a very critical leadership role in driving the sanitization of our cities by driving the adoption of electric vehicles. 

Q: What are your favorite quotes?

  • Price is what you pay and value is what you get – Warren Buffet.
  • Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked – Warren Buffet.
  • Be the light of the world and the salt of the earth – Bible.

Adetayo is the Chief Executive Officer of MAX. He leads the team, sets strategic direction and drives the Company’s partnerships. Adetayo studied Computer Science at the University of Ibadan, where he built one of Nigeria’s first mobility platforms.

He moved on to build a stellar career as a Software Engineer, Product Manager and Management Consultant at leading companies such as the UAC Group, PwC, NLNG (a Shell subsidiary), Konga.com and Dalberg. Significantly, Adetayo delivered a Production Optimization Platform that generated $100 million in revenue in the first year of operations.

Adetayo earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School and London Business School from 2013 to 2015. Whilst at MIT, he co-founded MAX with Chinedu Azodoh.