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Across Africa, commuters hop on two wheels


FROM four wheels to two wheels… More Africans are taking motorcycles to work than ever before, as the two-wheeled mobility option proliferates on the continent ― and promises an electric option.

Hopping onto a motorbike to go to work could soon be your regular mode of commute, as Africa ― faced with rapid urbanisation and population growth – diversifies its mobility options.

Whether you call it a moto-taxi or a boda-boda (equally notorious for their deafening noise and noxious exhaust emissions) the two-wheeled options is also likely to become a lot more environmentally friendly in the near future.

Another change in mobility-related behaviour: women are increasingly taking charge of the ubiquitous motorcycle taxi.

The reason for all of this? The increasing consumer power of daily commuters, along with the improved off-road performance of cheap motorcycles and the obvious attraction of being able to avoid traffic congestion on increasingly clogged urban roads, according to a Research and Markets report on the African two-wheeler market.

Added to this, electric motorcycles are already on the roads in parts of Africa.

In March, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a pilot electric bikes project in Kenya and Uganda, testing 100 e-bikes donated by TAILG, a Chinese OEM.

According to Global Fleet, governments of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Madagascar, and Seychelles are cooperating to spearhead the region’s transition to e-mobility.

In its July 1 report, the fleet management firm said there are currently more than 20 start-ups and companies promoting and developing electric motorcycles and three-wheelers in East Africa alone.

“While these vehicle types are not yet as popular in Africa as they are in Asia – where the proximity of and joint ventures with China are fuelling the market – this may soon change,” the report said.

“In fact, motorcycles sales in East Africa have now overtaken those of private cars. Annual growth rates of motorbike registrations stood at more than 8 per cent from 2013 to 2017. Motorcycle sales across the region are expected to increase to half a million by 2030.”

UNEP and IKI are conducting a Global Electric Mobility Programme, with the support of the EU and others, to build capacity, strategies and policies, business models and financial schemes to support the transition to e-mobility.

Motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles are popular modes of transport in many low- and middle-income countries. UNEP figures show there are some 270 million motorcycles on the road today worldwide, a number expected to swell to 400 million by 2050.

“Running on fossil fuels, emissions from these vehicles drive climate change and are hazardous to people,” said the UN agency.

E-bikes are expected to save global motorcycle owners a combined 350 billion US dollars by 2050

By The African Mirror