Ride-hailing platform Uber has launched its first-ever electric motorbike service in Kenya, marking its entry into the African market. This move is part of Uber’s larger vision to make its global platform emissions-free by 2040.
Kagiso Khaole, Uber’s General Manager for sub-Saharan Africa, has revealed exciting plans following the successful introduction of electric motorbike service in Kenya. Uber is set to expand this innovative service, aptly named “Electric Boda” after the Swahili term for motorbike taxis, to several other African countries, including Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa later this year.
In the initial six months of rollout, Uber aims to incorporate 3,000 electric bikes into its fleet, a substantial portion representing nearly one-fifth of its total motorbike fleet in Kenya.
The advantages of Uber’s electric motorbikes are twofold, benefiting both drivers and users. Drivers stand to gain from a significant 30–35% reduction in operating costs, making this a financially attractive opportunity for them. For riders, the cost savings are equally appealing, with a 15-20% reduction in fares compared to regular Uber motorbike trips.
Beyond the economic benefits, the introduction of electric motorbikes promises an improved riding experience. As Khaole points out, riders can expect reduced vibrations and noise, enhancing overall comfort and reducing noise pollution, benefiting both passengers and the community.
Uber’s foray into electric motorbike service marks a significant step towards reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a more environmentally friendly future. By gradually replacing traditional motorbikes with electric counterparts, the company is actively promoting sustainability.
This move aligns with Kenya’s ambition to lead in green transportation, with the country generating over 90% of its power from renewable sources. Kenya is rapidly becoming a hub for sustainable practices and renewable energy.
However, one challenge facing the growth of the electric vehicle market in Africa is the lack of sufficient charging infrastructure. To tackle this issue, local companies have been establishing battery-swapping stations in major cities like Nairobi, aiming to expedite the charging process for electric vehicles.
Kenya’s President William Ruto’s vision to increase the number of electric motorbikes on the road from 2,000 to over 200,000 by the end of 2024 aligns seamlessly with Uber’s commitment to a greener future. Motorbike transport serves as a vital source of employment for millions who may not secure formal employment otherwise.
Frans Hiemstra, the Director and Regional General Manager for Uber Middle East and Africa, expressed immense enthusiasm for this development. He emphasized that the launch of the Electric Boda service represents a significant stride towards sustainability and is an integral part of Uber’s journey toward achieving a zero-emissions platform.
The electric motorbikes, boasting an 80-kilometer range, will be managed by Greenwheels Africa, an e-mobility company specializing in electrifying motorbikes. This arrangement allows Greenwheels to oversee bike-related logistics, including maintenance and charging. Charging stations will be established by Greenwheels across Kenya, with plans to increase their numbers from a few to ten by the year’s end.
Notably, riders won’t be responsible for charging the batteries themselves. Instead, depleted batteries will be exchanged for fully charged ones at Greenwheels Africa’s stations. Uber’s Head of East Africa, Imran Manji, clarified that riders would be billed for the batteries based on usage.
The launch of Electric Boda promises to revolutionize Kenya’s transportation landscape. As the nation embraces sustainable practices and endeavors to reduce its carbon footprint, Uber’s electric motorbike service serves as a commendable example of the transportation industry’s shift towards eco-friendly alternatives.