The transportation sector in many low and middle-income countries is witnessing rapid growth in two and three wheelers. While Asia currently dominates the global motorcycle fleet, African countries are experiencing some of the highest growth rates for motorcycles worldwide. Presently, there are approximately 270 million motorcycles on the roads, with annual motorcycle sales reaching around 52 million. Projections indicate that by 2050, the global motorcycle fleet will surpass 400 million vehicles, representing a 50% increase from the current numbers.
Experts unanimously recognize the importance of prioritizing the transition to E-Mobility for two and three wheelers. According to scenario calculations using the UN Environment eMob calculator, a significant and global shift towards 90% battery electric motorcycle sales by 2030 could lead to a reduction of approximately 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions between now and 2050. Additionally, the overall financial benefits resulting from reduced fuel and maintenance costs, despite the higher initial purchase price of electric motorcycles, could amount to approximately USD 350 billion by 2050.
On a global scale, the E-Bike market was valued at USD 45.75 billion in 2021, with a projected growth to USD 109.53 billion by 2030, indicating a yearly growth rate of around 10%. Astute Analytica’s data shows that the Middle East and Africa E-Bike market was valued at USD 822.22 million in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 1.7 billion by 2029. Among the different battery types, Lithium-Ion is the most dominant in this market segment due to its compact size and long-lasting properties.
Global Fleet reports that several governments in East Africa, including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi are collaborating to lead the region’s transition to e-mobility. This cooperative effort has resulted in the emergence of more than 20 electric motorcycle and three-wheeler companies and startups in East Africa alone.
Leading Players in the E-Bike Industry in Kenya
In November 2021, Jumia, an e-commerce giant in Africa, announced its partnership with a Kenyan start-up called eBee Africa to replace the fuel-based delivery motorbikes used by its riders. In 2022, STIMA, a battery swapping technology company, and One Electric, India’s leading electric motorcycle manufacturer, announced their partnership to deploy 3,000 rechargeable electric motorcycles in Kenya in the first phase. Also, across the region, ebike startups have come up to revolutionize the transport systems.
Ampersand, a startup in Rwanda, intends to significantly increase the number of electric motorcycles in its fleet, growing from the current 56 drivers to several thousand. In 2022, Ampersand partnered with TotalEnergies Kenya to launch an electric motorcycle battery swapping and charging station in Nairobi. This initiative is in line with TotalEnergies’ climate ambition of net-zero emissions by 2050. In 2023, the company announced that they had a network of 25 battery-swap stations across Kenya and Rwanda where riders can swap out depleted batteries for fully charged ones in only 2 minutes.
Ecobodaa, another Kenyan startup with a business model similar to Ampersand, initiated the production of its electric bike brand. The company plans to accelerate the deployment of battery swap stations across Kenya. Ecobodaa will adopt a rent-to-own business model to encourage greater adoption of its electric bikes. Kenya has emerged as a hub for e-bike growth, attracting various startups to establish operations in the capital city, Nairobi.
ARC Ride, a Kenyan company, launched an electric motorcycle-based service for Uber Eats deliveries in Nairobi in February 2021. ARC Ride aims to expand its fleet to over 2,000 electric e-bikes and electric three-wheelers (Tuk Tuks) to serve different routes in Nairobi by the end of 2022. Additionally, a strategic partnership between the global ride-hailing firm Uber and the Swedish-Kenyan company Opibus, now known as Roam, is expected to introduce 3,000 electric bikes designed and built in Kenya to the streets of Kenya and other African cities.
Roam Air Bikes, formerly known as Opibus, recently announced the availability of its electric motorbike, the Roam Air. Kenyans can purchase the Roam Air for KES 180,000, and it is specifically designed to perform well in both urban and rural environments. The bike is completely electric and offers users the potential to save up to 70 percent on running costs compared to fuel-powered motorcycles. It is equipped with a dual-battery system, allowing users to disconnect a battery from the bike and charge it at home or at authorized charging stations. Once fully charged, it can cover a range of 180 km. Roam claims that the Air is mechanically robust and designed to handle challenging terrains.
Kiri BIKES is an electric vehicle startup based in Nairobi, Kenya. The company’s mission is to challenge the status quo of the motor industry across the African continent. Kiri EV launches the broadest range of electric vehicles in East Africa. The company offers a comprehensive electric vehicle ecosystem, which includes a smart EV, an intelligent portable battery, innovative technology, swap stations, tracking, and emergency alerts.
Ebee Bikes is a Kenyan company with Dutch roots. The company was founded in 2021 to accelerate the adoption of light electric vehicles in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ebee’s core focus is on developing, distributing, and servicing e-bikes and e-cargo bikes for last-mile delivery in urban areas. Ebee is the first company in Sub-Saharan Africa to facilitate and invest in the mass adoption of e-bikes.
Little Bikes, a Kenyan super app, Little, launched its electric mobility products, including electric bikes and scooters, in 2022. Little’s bikes are primarily constructed from easily recyclable materials, such as steel and aluminum, and can operate for up to 24 hours after a 4-hour charge. Users can activate the bikes by downloading the Little app and scanning the code on each cycle. The company plans to deploy over 200 electric bikes at designated spots around Nairobi, including tourist spots, residential estates, universities, and parks. The e-bikes will be accessible through the Little App.
Bolt Bikes on-demand transportation platform Bolt has also entered the electric bike market in Kenya. The company has unveiled electric tuk-tuks and e-bicycles on its platform as part of its effort to expand its greener transport options. Currently, Bolt Food couriers will use these electric vehicles, with plans to eventually include them in the ride-hailing business. Furthermore, Bolt is the first company to launch an electric bike-sharing service in Europe. The introduction of new e-bikes and e-tuk-tuks will further expand the options available for Bolt’s delivery business.
Kenya has become a prominent hub for the growth of electric bikes, attracting various startups and companies to establish operations in Nairobi. With the potential to reduce CO2 emissions and offer significant financial benefits, the transition to electric mobility in Kenya’s two and three-wheeler market holds promise for a sustainable and efficient transportation system in the country and across Africa.
Author: Victor O. Nyakinda
Transport Sector Lead at Fie-Consult