Uber, partner of electric vehicle group, to roll out electric motorcycles across Africa in 2022
Just like in most cities in Africa, motorcycle taxi drivers can be found in almost every corner of Nairobi. Josephat Mutiso is among the first drivers here to switch from fossil fuel motorcycles to electric motorcycles, thanks to a partnership between Uber and Opibus.
“It’s very effective,” he said. “It’s even a lot easier to ride than the other one. See, this one, you don’t have that many controls, you just have the throttle, no clutch. The only thing you focus on is just the front brake and the rear brake. This way it gives you even more control of the bike. And it’s quite light, it doesn’t vibrate. So even customers like this one better. ”
Motorcycle taxis have become increasingly common as public transport in African cities.
Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program, notes that motorcycle taxis have become increasingly common as public transport in African cities.
“The number of newly registered motorcycles, commonly used as taxis or boda boda, was estimated in 2018 at 1.5 million and will likely increase to five million by 2030,” she said. “Most of them are inefficient, poorly maintained and very polluting. The UNEP study shows that boda boda drivers can more than double their income if they make the switch.
In March, the United Nations Environment Program launched Kenya’s first electric bicycle project, creating momentum for Africa’s shift to electric mobility. The partnership between Uber and Opibus aims to accelerate this change.
“We’re just excited to expose as many people as possible to the new technology we’ve created so that they know there is an option,” said Alex Pitkin, CTO at Opibus. “Uber obviously supplies a lot of boda boda runners, that’s our target customer. Often times they don’t know how beneficial electric motorcycles can be in terms of money savings, safety, fuel savings, maintenance savings, you know that sort of thing. And the longevity of the product, too, they don’t know.
Around the world, there is a shift towards electric vehicles due to increasing pollution and climate-damaging emissions from vehicles.
The African continent is not left behind in this movement.
“Targeting Africa and African countries is also part of this movement and as an Opibus this is where we are targeting,” said Lucy Mugala, engineer at Opibus. “We want us to all move forward together. We are all moving towards greener energy, a greener economy. And we can only do this if we all come together, empower and build capacity locally. ”
Mutiso says he’s making more money now.
“Everything I earned and saved for the maintenance of the bike,” he said. “Right now, I’m keeping it. So right now I’m earning more.
Experts say a global shift to electric mobility is essential for the future and that drivers like Mutiso will benefit.