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Kenyan startup to launch country’s first affordable electric motorbike taxis

Founded in March 2020, a new Kenyan startup, Ecobodaa, will be launching the country’s first electronic motorbike at the start of 2021.

The motorbike taxis are built and assembled in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

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The motorbikes will be a more affordable and environmentally-friendly alternative to taxi drivers who rent their motorbikes at high rates from their owners. This will be an important step in helping thousands of taxi drivers in Kenya save more from their daily earnings.

Ecobodaa new affordable and green bikes

Currently, the founders have developed a prototype motorbike that is being tested by taxi drivers.

In an interview with Ventureburn, Kimosop Chepkoit, founder and CEO of Ecobodaa explains that they hope to launch their service

“Our initial plan was to launch later this month but we ran into some manufacturing and logistics related challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our rescheduled launch date is January 2021.”

Once the Ecobodaa bikes have been launched they will be available to drivers on a “lease-to-own credit model.” The bikes will be able to reach a maximum speed of 60km per hour and produce zero emissions.

The bikes will be fitted with a removable 72v Lithium battery which will have a range of 60 – 75km per hour. Once the bike’s battery power has been depleted, the drivers will be able to swap it out for a fully charged battery at an Ecobadaa battery swap station.

The battery will also make the bikes more fuel-efficient and as a result, reduce the cost of fuel for the driver.

Chepkoit explains that riders face a myriad of challenges, from police harassment, exploitation from leasing agencies and more, but Ecobodaa aims to alleviate these challenges faced by riders and simplifying the process. Overall allowing riders to earn a stable income.

“Ecobodaa, apart from Tackling the global problem of climate change through decarbonising the most popular mode of transport in East Africa also offers an affordable lease to own terms to the riders who get up to 90% savings on motorcycle servicing compared to owning a petrol powered motorcycle which needs servicing every 2 weeks (3 months for Ecobodaa).”

Ecobodaa will also be able to track their driver’s performance through a route playback system which will show the distance covered as well as the speed and power of the bike.

Nairobi’s taxi situation

Currently, in Nairobi, there are more than 100 000 motorbike taxis and are used by plenty of commuters in the city. Despite the demand for their service, taxi drivers on average earn $10 (+/- R164) after working approximately 17 hours a day.

“According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and National Transport and Safety Association, there are approximately 200,000 bodabodas in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, an area covering more than 1,000 sqkm. Each rider is estimated to make at least 20 trips in a day with approximate earnings of 10USD per day,” explains Chepkoit.

A majority of the taxi drivers do not own the bikes which add to their day to day expenses. On average, a driver will pay a daily payment of $4.8 (+/- R78) to the owner of the bike and an extra $2.5 (+/- R40) on fuel/petrol. This means that drivers only have a profit of $2.7 (+/- R44).

According to their website, Ecobodaa drivers will only have to pay $3.5 (+/- R57) in daily premiums compared to the current average rate of $4.8 (+/- R78).

This will be an important step in helping thousands of taxi drivers in Kenya save more from their daily earnings.

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Feature image: Ecobodaa bike, Facebook

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