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Uber launches electric bikes in Kenya, its first in Africa

As part of its efforts to be a zero-emission company by 2040, Uber has rolled out electric bikes in Kenya, its first in Africa.

Uber launches electric bikes in Kenya, its first in Africa
Uber boda boda riders pose for a picture at the launch of the company's first fleet of electric product in Nairobi, Kenya, August 31, 2023. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

Global ride-hailing firm, Uber has launched electric bikes in Kenya's capital city, Nairobi. This is its first e-mobility product in Africa, which forms part of the company's efforts to be a zero-emission company by 2040.

The bikes dubbed Electric Boda to associate with the Swahili term for motorbike taxis, will comprise 3,000 bikes within six months, or just under a fifth of its fleet. Drivers will see a 30-35% drop in their operating costs, and users of the platform will pay 15-20% less than they do for a regular Uber motorbike trip, according to the company.

The Electric Boda will be managed by Greenwheels Africa, an e-mobility company focused on electrifying motorbikes. The company will oversee all bike-related logistical matters, including maintenance and charging; according to reports Greenwheels Africa plans to increase its charging spots in Nairobi to ten by the end of the year.

Electric Boda riders will not be required to charge their bikes, the fleet partner will do that, They will only be required to switch depleted batteries for charged ones, which will save time.  

Although Uber and its fleet partner intend to sell the bikes to the riders in the future, Greenwheels Africa will only lease the bikes to the riders, through a collaborative partnership involving the trio; Greenwheels Africa, Uber, and the riders.

“We are doing our part to aid the transition to eco-friendly mobility products and to support national sustainability objectives. The launch of Electric Boda will provide Kenyans with one of the most affordable ways to move from one place to another, with prices 15-20% below the price of our existing product,” according to Imran Manji, Uber’s head of East Africa.

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Until now, none of the over one billion trips recorded by Uber in Africa was done via an electric vehicle. The ride-hailing company made its debut arrival in Africa with South Africa as its first market in 2013. Currently, Uber is present in Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ivory Coast.

According to Frans Hiemstra, GM for Uber in the Middle East and Africa region: “Now is the time to take solid steps that enhance sustainable practices and as a business, we are committed to being part of the collective efforts to reduce the carbon footprint. Through the launch of Electric Boda on our platform, we are proud to provide an option for emissions-free mobility in Kenya.”

In March, Hiemstra said that Uber wants 25% of kilometres driven by its cars to be electric by 2030, starting with South Africa. No specific mention was made about bikes, at the time. However, the launch of the Electric Boda in Kenya is in line with the vision of the country's president, Williams Ruto.

In July, Ruto pledged to support the acquisition of electric motorcycles in the country to a high of 200,000 pieces by the end of 2024. He also said that the government will work with partners to reduce the cost of financing for riders.

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