With 100,000+ installs and counting, Uganda’s SafeBoda has launched in Nairobi, Kenya to provide the city’s approximately 6m population with safe, fast and affordable means of transport around the city.
SafeBoda has always been keen on expanding across the region and made known its plans to launch in Nairobi a few months when it began hiring for a number of key roles for its Nairobi operations. For a few months now, the firm has been busy training boda boda riders and integrating M-PESA payments as well as getting itself familiar with the various regulations in its new market.
Unlike Kampala where it’s Boda bodas are popular, Kenyans view boda bodas in a different light. One minor issue is safety which gladly SafeBoda wants to solve. However, the major issue is status and perception. Though a good number of users rely on boda bodas for their daily commute or to beat traffic jams, people still despise boda bodas as means for a less fortunate group of users earning less than ten dollars a day. The boda boda industry is still huge and cannot be ignored and the local eCommerce boom has made it the preferred courier partner to various hotels and businesses.
Traffic police are also a hindrance to the uptake of boda bodas in the city but in towns like Kisumu, Eldoret, Bungoma boda bodas are nearly the primary means of transport. Data can also be a challenge but with partnerships, firms like SafeBoda can subsidize data for their clientele across the city. In India and a number of other international markets, Uber has launched Uber Boda in Uganda and is planning to launch the service in Nigeria and Kenya too.
Taxify already has Taxify Boda in both Kenya and Uganda. There is room for more players in this market but the winner will have to not only lobby for better roads to allow for cycle safety but a general behaviour change among target users to see the bikes as an essential means to work or from work and not for lesser human beings.
Kenya’s Maramoja Transport tried its hands at this business and pulled out. Their reasons for closure might be SafeBoda’s primary reason for entry into the market. Kenya’s Sendy launched and shut down its boda boda and cab hailing services then later the Kenya Boda Boda association launched its Juu Boda and is yet to release any numbers to the public.