Opibus, the Kenyan-based electric vehicle manufacturer, and Uber have partnered to scale the use of electric motorcycles in Africa.
This follows an agreement between the two parties where Opibus will supply 3,000 electric motorcycles in 2022 to meet the demand from UBER’s drivers. In line with this, the partnership will see a scale-up of Opibus operation to other countries across Africa.
Opibus motorcycle stands out from others as it is the first African electric motorcycle, which means it is fully designed and tailored for the local use case, with a robust frame and dual swappable battery packs providing a perfect product-market fit, intended to maximise local content.
The partnership with Uber validates Opibus’s vision to make reliable electric transport more accessible to a broader market. Using the Uber platform, more drivers can now deliver their services to customers using zero-carbon emission motorcycles.
This will lead to immense carbon reduction while at the same time creating a better environment in cities with less noise, no particle emissions, and lowering carbon emissions globally. This follows a larger shift in Uber business to switch to fully electric and become a zero-emission platform by 2040. This may be the start of the next great leapfrogging event in technology for Africa.
In Kenya, the motorcycle industry is the single largest employer, estimated to employ over 1.2 million youth. The sector is booming with a total of over 1.6 million motorcycles registered in the country, growing with an average of 16,500 units imported per month into the country. The exclusively fossil-fueled fleet contributes to a total of 0.81 tonnes of CO2 equivalents, corresponding to 32% of the government’s emission reduction target by 2030. That being so, the result is massive amounts of emissions, contributing to global warming.
The high rate of emissions brought about by the vast number of ICE motorcycles has contributed to the country’s commitment to harness low-carbon investment opportunities. This presents an unprecedented opportunity to electrify the industry in keeping to the goals in Kenya’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement. This makes even more sense when a total of 85,092 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved yearly if 50% of annual motorcycle sales will be electric.
Additionally, transitioning to electric motorcycles makes a significant difference to the driver or operator’s income. Reduced maintenance and operating cost when utilizing Opibus motorcycles leads to a cost reduction of more than 60% in comparison to a traditional ICE motorcycle. The transition is furthermore incentivized by high import taxation and fuel prices that have risen by 25% only during 2021. This at the same time as Opibus aims to offer their motorcycle for the same prices as a fossil fuel equivalent.
“We are doing our part to help transform mobility in the country by helping to reduce carbon emissions. Uber is continuously looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and we have a responsibility to invest in product innovations that are safe, reliable, durable, environmentally friendly and have a sustainable impact on drivers and cities. This collaboration with Opibus will do just that.” said Frans Hiemstra, General Manager, Uber Sub-Saharan Africa.
“We’re seeing a huge demand for locally designed electric motorcycles on the African continent, and by working with UBER we’ve now been able to prove the feasibility for large-scale deployment. Next year we’re scaling up our production to meet the market demand, both in Kenya and in the region.” Mikael Gånge, Co-Founder and Chief Sales Officer Opibus
“It has changed the whole way I drive. The motorbike requires no change of mechanical gears, it’s very easy to drive. I was impressed with the instant speed of the startup. It also has a big carrier, which makes it convenient for luggage transportation and a bigger onboard capacity for passengers. Normally, it’s hard to communicate while on transit because of how noisy motorbikes are, but this particular motorbike by Opibus is silent. I can talk to passengers and it’s even designed and built-in Kenya.” Ronald Ogachi Zablon, UberBoda Driver