Uber unveils electric motorbike offering in Nairobi.
In a pivotal move within the Kenyan transport sector, Uber has introduced “One Electric” – an electric motorbike initiative exclusive to Nairobi at present. This groundbreaking rollout comes as global automotive trends pivot to electric transportation. The Kenyan territory has witnessed Uber’s consistent advancements, with earlier incorporations of safety features and M-PESA payment integration.
Frans Hiemstra, Uber’s Director for the Middle East and Africa region, emphasized the commitment to sustainability. “With Electric Boda’s introduction, we aim to reduce the carbon footprint, underpinning our global objective for a zero-emission platform by 2040,” he commented.
These electric motorbikes, boasting an 80-kilometre range, aren’t Uber-owned. Instead, they’re managed by Greenwheels Africa, a company specializing in e-mobility solutions for motorbikes. Greenwheels will be responsible for maintenance, charging, and logistics. Imran Manji, overseeing Uber operations in East Africa, revealed Greenwheels’ ambition to upscale their charging stations from a handful to ten by year-end.
Interestingly, motorcyclists aren’t burdened with charging. They can conveniently swap drained batteries at Greenwheels’ stations. “Charging costs for Uber Electric Boda riders will be proportional to battery usage,” explained Manji.
While riders won’t possess these bikes, prospective sales to Kenyan citizens are being mulled. Greenwheels will lease these bikes for Uber’s services, facilitated through a joint venture encompassing Uber, Greenwheels, and the riders. As a sustainable alternative to Uber’s existing fuel-based Boda service, Electric Boda offers affordability – prices could plummet by 15-20%, as per Manji.
Presently, these bikes will cater to specific Nairobi locales, but expansions to other cities are anticipated. Uber’s plans to bring this model to other African countries remain undisclosed.
In alignment with the National Electric Mobility Plan and the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (2020-2025), Kenya is charting a sustainable path. This strategy cleverly circumvents legislative hurdles, aiming for electric car tax exemptions by 2024. Core tenets include green driver training, sustainable traffic management, and an industry-aligned automotive charter.
Soaring fuel prices have strained Kenyan consumers, corporates, and transit sectors. Nevertheless, a governmental fuel subsidy intervention kept petrol, diesel, and kerosene prices static at KES 28,545, KES 26,352.5, and KES 24,947.5 respectively in Nairobi.
Uber’s electric motorbike venture could slash operational costs by 30-35%. According to World Bank data, the Bodaboda sector – employing over 1.5 million Kenyan youth – injects an impressive KES 297.25 billion into the economy annually.