By Mark Kawalya
Uber has introduced an electric motorbike service in Kenya, the first of its kind for the company in Africa. This move aligns with the company’s strategic goal of making its operations carbon emissions-free across its global platform by 2040.
According to Kagiso Khaole, Uber’s general manager for sub-Saharan Africa, the launch in Kenya will be followed by a potential announcement later this year for a similar initiative to be unveiled in different markets the firm operates in across the region.
Other sub-Saharan markets where Uber has a presence include Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa.
In Kenya, the green mobility initiative, dubbed “Electric Boda” in reference to Swahili terminology for motorbike taxis, will consist of a fleet of 3,000 electric bikes in the next six months. This will constitute nearly one-fifth of Uber’s total bike fleet in the region.
Drivers that participate in this program will realize a noteworthy 30–35% reduction in their operating costs, while riders using the platform can expect to pay 15-20% less compared to regular Uber motorbike trips.
Khaole lauded this transition to electric bikes and the ride comfort of the saying, “You will experience lower vibrations and less sound like you would in the case of a petrol-powered motorcycle engine.”
Kenya has positioned itself as a green transport hub, generating a large portion of its electricity from renewable sources. Prior to this launch, Uber conducted smaller-scale electric bike pilots in collaboration with external partners.
However, the adoption of electric vehicles in Africa has been hindered by a lack of adequate charging infrastructure and associated equipment. Recognizing this opportunity, local businesses have started establishing battery-swapping stations in major urban centers like Nairobi, aimed at streamlining the charging process for drivers.
Kenya’s President William Ruto recently voiced his ambition to see the number of electric motorbikes on the country’s roads increase from the current 2,000 to more than 200,000 by the end of 2024. If realized, this will be a significant development given that the motorcycle transport sector is a source of employment for millions of youths who do not have access to formal employment.