Opibus and Uber have announced a strategic partnership to scale the use of electric motorcycles in Kenya with the former targeting to use the later’s platform to accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles across the country.

The goal of the collaboration, the firms said, is to simplify the deployment of electric motorcycles across 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.

Frans Hiemstra, General Manager, Uber Sub-Saharan Africa said the goal is to help transform mobility in the country by reducing 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 Mr Hiemstra.

The partnership will see a scale-up of Opibus operation to other countries across Africa. Opibus motorcycle is the first African electric motorcycle firm, and has been 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.

Mikael Gånge, CoFounder and Chief Sales Officer at Opibus said the firm is witnessing a huge demand for locally designed electric motorcycles on the African continent.

“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.”

Opibus targets to make reliable electric transport more accessible to a broader market, and it expects that using the Uber platform, more drivers can now deliver their services to customers using zero-carbon emission motorcycles.

This could 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.

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.

Ronald Ogachi Zablon, an UberBoda driver said electric bikes have changes whole way he rides as it requires no change of mechanical gears, and it’s very easy to ride.

“I was impressed with the instant speed on 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,” he said.

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. Opibus aims to offer their motorcycle for the same prices as petrol bikes.