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Building a Super App for the African Market

Launched in 2018 in Togo, Gozem started by offering a motorcycle-hailing app, but has since added services such as food and grocery delivery, vehicle financing and a digital wallet, while expanding to Benin and Gabon. Based in Singapore, the startup was cofounded by a Nigerian and two Swiss entrepreneurs who saw an untapped market in West Africa. Gozem says its app has been downloaded 800,000 times and as a ride-hailing service it has completed four million trips with its 2,500 drivers. Its aim now is to make the app indispensable. Nigeria’s Gokada, which also started as a ride-hailing service, is making similar efforts, as is South African communications company Vodacom (VDMCY), which is partnering with China’s Alipay. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, super apps are expected to generate $500 billion in revenues by 2025, with growth in Asia and emerging markets like Brazil. Super apps haven’t always had an easy time of it on the continent. Tencent’s (TCEHY) WeChat hasn’t been able to match its success in Asia, with Facebook’s (FB) rival messaging app Whatsapp already an established presence in Africa. CanGo Africa, another ride-hailing service with super app ambitions, closed down in 2020, reportedly because of a lack of funds.