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1.4 Million Riders, 22 Million Rides Per Day: Kenya’s Fascinating Motorcycle Taxi Industry Ripe For Electrification

Several startups have set out to providw a new avenue for motorcycle taxi riders to lower their operating costs, increase their earnings, and ultimately build some savings by switching to electric motorcycles.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Boda Boda Investment Scheme on Friday. The investment scheme, a partnership between the Boda Boda Safety Association (BAK) and its partners, which include the Capital Markets Authority, Rubis Energy, and NABO Capital, seeks to channel a portion of riders’ earnings to a savings scheme. Training, legal representation, and other investment opportunities are also part of the arrangement. During the launch, some fascinating numbers were revealed that show how important the motorcycle taxi industry is to Kenya’s economy.

Here is a summary of the numbers:

  • There are 1.4 million motorcycle taxi riders in Kenya
  • 22 million rides per day
  • Average daily earnings of 700 shillings ($6.60) 
  • Every single day, Boda Boda operators collect Sh980 million ($9.2 million)
  • Annual earnings are estimated at 357 billion shillings ($3.3 billion)

President Kenyatta said the sector supports 5.2 million Kenyans directly or indirectly, which is about 10% of Kenya’s population. One of the key things highlighted is the fact that despite all this contribution to the economy, a lot of Boda Boda riders complain about the tough operating environment. This is why several startups have set out to address this by providing a new avenue for the riders to lower their operating costs, increase their earnings, and ultimately build some savings by switching to electric motorcycles.

One of the startups is Ecobodaa, and they say its pilot program shows that it has been able to save riders 36% on daily fuel spend, over 75% on repairs, and 90% on servicing for over a period of 3 months. Ecobodaa has adopted the proven PayGo model adopted from the small home solar system industry to help catalyze adoption, in which the riders will only pay a 10% deposit and then pay the reminder through daily or weekly M-PESA (mobile money) remittances. This way they will solve the problem facing many youth and women, which is access to capital. The payments are made for a period of 18 months, after which they get to own the Ecobodaa.

Another startup is Fika Mobility. Fika means to arrive in Swahili, and they strongly believe that the moment for electric motorcycles in east Africa has arrived. Fika Mobility has spent over 2 years studying the market to see how best to disrupt the motorcycle ecosystem in Kenya. In that time, the company spoke with over 200 Boda Boda riders to understand their rider habits and pain points. Wetu, a social enterprise that provides mobility, power, and water solutions to improve living standards in rural Kenya, has just had 15 electric motorcycles delivered to its hub in Homa Bay, Western Kenya. These motorcycles were designed in Kenya and built to suit local conditions by another startup, Opibus.

A 2015 study by the Energy Regulatory Commission, ERC (Now called The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, EPRA), titled “Global Fuel Economy Initiative Study in Kenya (GFEI),” cites that emissions from motorcycles of less than 150 cc are about 46.5 g/km of CO2. A 2018 paper by Fiona Raje, et al., cites that 39% of CO2 emissions in Kenya are from the transport sector. This also highlights why switching to electric motorcycles has become even more important to reduce emissions in Kenya.

Electric motorcycle, CleanTechnica



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