At first, he lacked technical knowledge about the world of electric bikes. But one sure thing that kept him relentless was his passion for achieving his dream at all costs.
Outside being a legal practitioner, Tolulope Williams has always love tech! And toys too. He has real fun when goes motorbiking and traveling across the world.
“Law really wasn’t my passion, to be honest. If you knew me from a young age and came to my room, you would see toy cars arranged everywhere. I’d arrange things like spaceships; I wouldn’t throw them away, I’d just try and make something out of them,” says Williams.
One time he attended a trade fair, he fell in love with an electric bike and bought it instantly. He became interested in the captivating technology of clean energy which has been a wave since Elon Musk’s Tesla and many more companies and entrepreneurs and going into that area.
He then brought the bike to Nigeria!
“I think everybody wants to be a biker, as well. I always wanted to be a biker. But, I didn’t think I had the time to ride or maintain a petrol engine. So, using an electric bike, I realised like, maintenance is way easier, and it’s user friendly,” he says.
The sad truth about most Nigerian roads
Like every other rider or driver, Williams doesn’t get to enjoy his bike on most Nigerian roads due to potholes and poor drainage system. And this very factor, led to the development of Siltech in 2012. To make things easier, Tolulope Williams just had to tweak some few things.
Up in his Lagos office, is the gold mark of that change.
Fuel was the passion but Siltech needed more to stand firm
Tolulope Williams with great passion did put the work in, taking courses abroad and devoted time on YouTube to understanding the fundamentals of EVs from two-wheelers to three to four-wheelers.
Before you say Africa, Williams could fix suspensions, increase battery capacity, and improve motor controllers of an electric bike.
“Yeah, there was a lot of YouTube, and I also did a lot of schooling in Asia as well. Some training courses with the EV companies I was working with,
“I then realised that the key to all this is really the suppliers. It’s getting the right chain of suppliers and ensuring you have the right warranty for all these kinds of technologies.”
Building a friendly electric bike
These bikes have their engine located in an unusual position which get easily noticed and people do find it attractive. He then looked into safety issues to ensure Siltech’s products are friendly and got great quality.
“So, in doing that, we created a robust after-sale service, and really became very, very technically sound on all the products and actually started improving them, and working with suppliers over there to create products solely for this market.”
Bringing onboard the right people
For effective operation, Siltech employs individuals with pre-existing knowledge of motorbikes and combustion engines. The company also trains its employees to assemble and maintain EVs.
“We have about ten technical staff. And then, we also have other people in charge of other areas like marketing, international partnerships and communications, legal affairs, and all that,” says Williams.
Meeting the needs of the Nigerian market
“So each of these products has been extremely well thought out and tested over quite a period in different terrains to ensure that it’s something that people can use every day.”
To achieve this, the company add some creativity to the bikes designed by other manufactures in context with the Nigerian market. This is because getting the parts has been a bit tricky as everything needs to be bespoke.
New Siltech electric bikes
According to the Tolulope Williams, more vehicles were sold in 2020. And sales increased in Q1 of 2021 despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the country continues to face power challenges but things has been a bit easy as the bikes can be charged with a regular small generators or an affordable inverter.
“As long as you can charge your laptop and your mobile phone, you have access to charging life; you can charge your electric bike. You can go to your friend’s house or a charge centre, and you can charge your battery for the same cost you charge your phone,” says Williams.
So how much can you get one of these sleek bikes?
Averagely, one can purchase a Siltech bike at about ₦700k which is about $1,700. Not everybody can afford one though, hence the company allows payment plans for low salary earners in the country.
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.