UBER, the ride-hailing giant, has taken its first step towards electrifying its platform in Africa by launching an electric motorbike service in Kenya. Named ‘Electric Boda,’ a nod to the Swahili term for motorbike taxis, this initiative is part of Uber’s global commitment to making its platform emissions-free by 2040.
Kagiso Khaole, Uber’s general manager for sub-Saharan Africa, announced that after the rollout in Kenya, the company plans to make a ‘potential announcement’ later this year regarding the expansion of this service to other markets in the region. Uber’s presence extends to several sub-Saharan African countries, including Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa.
The Electric Boda service in Kenya is set to deploy 3,000 electric bikes within six months, comprising nearly a fifth of Uber’s local fleet. Drivers who choose these electric motorbikes are expected to experience a substantial 30-35 percent reduction in their operating costs, while users of the platform can anticipate paying 15-20 percent less compared to regular Uber motorbike trips. Khaole highlighted the benefits of the electric bikes, stating, ‘You will experience lower vibrations, less sound.’
Kenya, which generates over 90 percent of its power from renewable sources and positions itself as a leading hub for Africa’s transition to green transport, has seen previous Uber pilots involving electric bikes in partnership with external collaborators.
However, the electric vehicle market in Africa faces challenges due to insufficient electric charging infrastructure and associated equipment. Recognising the opportunity, local businesses have started establishing battery-swapping stations in major cities such as Nairobi, aimed at saving drivers time and boosting electric vehicle adoption.
President William Ruto of Kenya expressed his desire to witness the number of electric motorbikes on the country’s roads increase from the current 2,000 to over 200,000 by the end of 2024. Motorbike transport is a significant source of employment in Kenya, providing livelihoods to millions of individuals who cannot secure formal employment.
Uber’s introduction of Electric Boda aligns with both its global sustainability goals and Kenya’s ambitious efforts to promote green transport and reduce emissions in the region, marking a significant step towards a more eco-friendly transportation landscape in Africa.