28-05-2023 by redazione
In 2001, instead of a space odyssey, the tuk-tuk invasion in Kenya revolutionised the travel of ordinary people, especially in coastal towns and small urban agglomerations. A few years later, motorbikes supplanted bicycles in the so-called 'boda-boda' (border to border) transport.
Now the new economical way of getting around for Kenyans could become the electric scooter. With more difficulties due to the quality of the roads (and the amount of roads that are not yet paved), but with a growth potential that invites the big companies producing electric vehicles to conquer the Kenyan market.
The forerunner was the Kenyan-owned Swedish company Opibus, which first imported electric vehicles to put them on the domestic market as taxis, then set up a 'retrofit' business, i.e. converting petrol engines to electric, starting with off-road vehicles to take tourists on safaris. Lately Opibus has changed its name to 'Roam Motors' and will move from electrifying old petrol vehicles and importing small cars, to producing models from scratch and especially electric motorbikes that are a solid and reliable alternative to those powered by an endothermic engine.
Design is a completely negligible factor for the brand. In developing countries, two-wheelers are in fact not a means of leisure or commuting, but are often the only means of transport and are also used to meet the most unimaginable work requirements.
With four hours of battery charging and the creation, in the making, of control units and stations for battery replacement. Roam's ultimate goal is to produce 12,000 motorbikes by the end of 2023.
Natural evolution, thinking of city mobility or tourist areas, is the scooter that is depopulating in Europe. This is why a multinational company already established in Nairobi such as Decathlon, which already has the sale of electric scooters in its 'arsenal', could start marketing them in Kenya, although the rules are not yet clear and there is no real process for importation and registration.
But the process has begun, and it will be to see actually what role these new economic and personal transport vehicles will play, and above all their adaptability to Kenyan soil and customs.
We can already imagine, in some parts of the country, 'monobodabodas' with one passenger on board for 20 shillings, and groups of young people trying to move four in one vehicle.
After all, Kenya has always accustomed us to absorbing evolutions or even temporary fashions in the blink of a flamingo's wings. We will see if this will also be the case with electric scooters.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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