The Rise of Boda-bodas as an Economic Driver for Ugandan Youth

By Mark Kawalya

Although Africa has enjoyed about 25 years of sustained economic growth with a steady rise in per capita income, this growth has not resulted in job creation for the nationals in many countries. With low chances of getting jobs, many Ugandan youth have turned to the boda-boda transport business as a means of eking out a living. The boda-boda industry is an attractive option for many youths due to how quickly money can be made as compared to sectors like agriculture. This article explores the ways in which the humble motorcycle has morphed into a driver of alternative economic empowerment for many of Uganda’s youth.

1. An Easier Pathway to Entrepreneurship.

For many boda-boda riders, the joining the trade is one of the easiest journeys into entrepreneurship. Operating a boda-boda requires a relatively low upfront investment compared to other businesses. A new motorcycle costs between Shs4 million to Shs5 million but this amount is still out of reach for many young people. Many acquire used motorcycles at half the cost and quickly start earning a living. This ease of accessibility has provided a gateway for individuals with limited resources to venture into entrepreneurship.

2.A Sustainable Means of Income Generation 

Boda-boda riders enjoy a steady source of daily income from their trade. Traffic congestion is one of the issues that plague the transportation system in Kampala, especially during rush hour. For instance, a trip from the city center to Namugongo, a Kampala suburb, can take an hour and forty minutes using a vehicle during peak hours. A boda-boda can take half that time due to the motorcycle’s easy maneuverability, making it a favored transport option for many.  With a demand that is relatively high, boda-boda riders earn consistently, enabling them to provide for their daily needs and support their families. This financial stability contributes to poverty alleviation by reducing vulnerability to economic shocks and providing a foundation upon which riders build better futures.

3.Growth of Interdependent businesses

Owing to the growth of motorcycles as a major transportation means, interdependent industries have grown, such as repair shops and spare parts shops. These have sprung up near the boda-boda stages, thus opening avenues for both employment and apprenticeship for unskilled, unemployed youth. “Boda-bodas make it possible for us to earn something every day, ” Juuko, one of the repair shop mechanics in downtown Kampala  said. The repair shops also serve as good apprenticeship grounds for many unemployed young people who are not skilled.

Robert Mukuba, who runs a motorcycle spare parts business, attributes the success of his venture to the high volumes of boda-boda riders that are found in Kampala. Hate them or love them, the Boda-boda is a dynamic business model that offers many Ugandan Youth a practical means of making an income.   

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