Trip to Kenya: Navigating Through Developing Road Infrastructure

How do people get around in Kenya?

The most popular mode of transport in Nairobi are Matatus, an informal network of minibuses, mainly organised as SACCOs (Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization). Matatus represent around 40% of the modal share in the capital, mainly due to its low cost: an average trip costs 50KES (0.40€). Then comes walking with 35% of the trips in Nairobi. Despite the prevalence of walking, it is worth noting that there is a lack of walking infrastructure. Many streets, and sometimes entire neighbourhoods, do not have sidewalks or suffer from discontinuity of sidewalks.

How have consumers adopted shared mobility and is one mode more popular than others?

Ride-hailing is the only shared mobility option currently available in Nairobi, whether it be with cars or motorbikes. Even though ride-hailing has been present for decades as an informal service, it has developed and evolved thanks to digitisation and investments from operators. The market is now largely shared between Uber and Bolt, who managed to integrate boda-boda in their apps, which is rides the cheapest option available. Some local boda-boda operators, meanwhile, are trying to solidify a share of the shared mobility space, but most have now shifted to focusing on deliveries.

What role does shared or private micromobility play in Nairobi? How important is the moto-taxi?

Cycling is the only micromobility option in Nairobi. Although it only represents 1% of all trips in the city, the improving cycling culture and bicycle lane networks makes it a growing transport option. The improvement of infrastructure is a key point towards a faster adoption of these light electric vehicles. Electric micromobility, such as e-scooters, e-bikes, and e-mopeds, is currently non-existent, due to the higher prices when compared to their manual counterparts. In addition, these two-wheeled vehicles are difficult to ride through Nairobi’s traffic and on uneven road surfaces.

What trends do you see in the shared mobility space in Kenya?

As touched on earlier, the boda-boda market will be the most dynamic in the next couple of years. They are easy to access for locals and have built up momentum towards electrification. There is no doubt that foreign investors and mobility players will be keen on joining the game. However, the boda-boda market might not be mature enough to evolve in to a shared micromobility services yet. People first have to get used to these new types of electric vehicles, while solution providers will have to adapt to the local mobility culture.

On a day trip through the city, where would you take us to discover the current and future mobility vibe of Nairobi?

Let’s meet on Waiyaki way, the main artery crossing the city from East to West, and a great example of what mobility currently is in Nairobi. There are never-ending traffic jams, roads full of crazy matatus overtaking on the roadside, along with overloaded boda-bodas. The ongoing construction of the elevated highway that will follow the same route adds to the feeling of chaos.
Then we will hop onto a boda-boda to one of Nairobi’s malls where you can witness the beginning of vehicles electrification. Electric vehicle charging stations are getting more and more common, boosted by the development of services such as Nope a Ride (100% electric ride-hailing service), and continued fleet electrification from Uber and Bolt.

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