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    Ethiopia’s Dodai Raises Record $4 Million in Series A Round for Electric Mobility Expansion

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    Dodai, an Addis Ababa-based electric vehicle (EV) startup, has secured a staggering $4 million in its Series A funding round, marking a significant milestone in the Ethiopian startup landscape. This investment stands as one of the largest sums ever raised by a startup in Ethiopia in a single round, elevating Dodai’s total raised capital to $6.2 million since its inception. The startup, spearheaded by founder and CEO Yuma Sasaki, aims to further bolster its financial backing with an additional $2 million in its ongoing Series A round.

    The latest round of funding saw participation from notable investors, including Nissay Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of Nissay, a renowned $500 billion asset insurance and management company. This marks Nissay Capital’s inaugural investment venture into Africa, showcasing a growing interest in the region’s burgeoning tech scene. Additionally, Musashi Seimitsu, a prominent automotive parts supplier with an annual revenue of $3 billion, joined as an investor. Inclusion Japan (ICJ), a Tokyo-based venture with a $100 million fund, also contributed, reaffirming its commitment to Ethiopian startups.

    Yasuhiro Yoshizawa, co-founder and general partner of Inclusion Japan, expressed his optimism about Dodai’s trajectory, emphasizing its pivotal role in advancing the Ethiopian startup ecosystem. “Dodai’s development is strongly leading the entire Ethiopian startup ecosystem,” stated Yoshizawa. “With the arrival of new, powerful investors from Japan, I am thrilled about the imminent exponential growth of the business.”

    In a statement to Shega, Yuma Sasaki shed light on the allocation of the funding, indicating that 80 percent will be devoted to importing electric motorbike parts and lithium batteries. An additional 15 percent will be allocated for general administrative expenses, with the remaining 5 percent earmarked for software development to facilitate battery swapping, scheduled for launch in Q4 of 2024.

    The genesis of Dodai dates back to 2023 when Yuma Sasaki founded the company in Ethiopia after a previous venture in Djibouti. Motivated by a desire to address fundamental challenges and improve livelihoods on a large scale, Yuma embarked on a journey to introduce urban e-mobility solutions in Ethiopia. Drawing on his experience in both Africa and Japan, including a tenure at Uber, Yuma’s vision for Dodai centers on providing simple and affordable mobility options in a country where the motorization rate remains low at 3–4 percent.

    Dodai entry into Ethiopia coincides with the nation’s ambitious plans to transition to electric mobility amid rising global fuel prices. According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Transport and Logistics, the country spent $6 billion on fuel imports in 2023, with over half directed towards vehicles. As part of its 10-Year Perspective Development Plan, the government aims to import thousands of electric buses and automobiles, while also incentivizing the duty-free importation of EV parts to spur adoption.

    Despite Dodai’s promising trajectory, regulatory challenges pose a significant hurdle. A notice issued by the Addis Ababa Transport Bureau in August 2023 mandated license plates and insurance for vehicles exceeding 20 kilometers per hour. However, ambiguity regarding the registration of EV bikes has left owners stranded, hampering the widespread adoption of Dodai’s offerings. While efforts are underway to address these regulatory uncertainties, concerns linger regarding their impact on Dodai’s expansion plans.

    Looking ahead, Dodai envisions expanding its electric mobility footprint beyond Ethiopia, with plans to enter a second market by 2027. However, regulatory considerations may influence this trajectory, with Yuma highlighting the importance of favorable regulations in supporting the company’s growth ambitions.

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