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OP-ED: Who Powers Uganda’s EV Motorbike Business

Uganda's electric motorcycle industry is poised for exponential growth, driven by innovation, sustainability, and a commitment to positive change. Pictured is a Spiro electric motorcycle. COURTESY PHOTO

Uganda's electric motorcycle industry is poised for exponential growth, driven by innovation, sustainability, and a commitment to positive change. Pictured is a Spiro electric motorcycle. COURTESY PHOTO

In the bustling streets of Uganda, where the vibrant rhythm of life pulses through every corner, a quiet revolution is underway. Amidst the throngs of “boda bodas” zipping through traffic, a new breed of transport is silently making its mark — electric motorcycles.

In recent years, as concerns over urban air pollution and the sustainability of traditional transportation methods have grown, the spotlight has turned to electric vehicles (EVs) as a promising solution. While four-wheeler EVs have garnered much attention globally, it’s the electric motorcycles that are quietly reshaping the transportation landscape in Uganda.

The economics of electric bodas

At first glance, the switch to electric may seem daunting for “boda boda” riders, given the higher upfront cost of electric motorcycles compared to their traditional counterparts. However, a closer look reveals a different story. Despite the initial investment, the long-term benefits of electric motorcycles far outweigh the costs.

One of the most significant advantages is the reduced operational expenses. Riders utilizing lithium-ion batteries in their electric boda bodas can save approximately 30% compared to fuel costs. This translates to a substantial increase in daily earnings, with riders pocketing up to UGX70,000 to UGX90,000, thanks to these savings.

Moreover, the convenience and affordability of battery swaps further contribute to the appeal of electric motorcycles. With a swap costing only UGX5,000 compared to UGX15,000 for fuel, riders typically need just one swap per day, significantly reducing their operational costs and maximizing their income potential.

Key players driving the EV wave in Uganda

Behind Uganda’s electric revolution are several key players driving innovation and sustainability in the transportation sector.

Spiro

At the forefront of this movement is Spiro, an electric mobility company dedicated to transforming the transportation landscape across Africa. With an ambitious plan to deploy 140,000 electric bikes in Uganda over the next 5 years, Spiro is poised to make a significant impact on urban mobility in the region.

GOGO Electric

Formerly known as BODAWERK, GOGO Electric specializes in advanced lithium-ion battery technology. Their battery swap network enhances the practicality of electric vehicles, making recharging a seamless experience for riders. By championing sustainable transportation solutions, GOGO Electric is paving the way for a greener future in East Africa.

Zembo

Zembo Motors is another key player in Uganda’s electric motorcycle market, providing electric “boda boda” motorcycle taxis to riders in Kampala. Through their innovative lease-to-own model and battery swap stations, Zembo is making electric mobility accessible and affordable for drivers while also fostering economic growth in the region.

Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza pictured trying out the Zembo electric bike a new Tier in the SafeBoda App while SafeBoda co-founder; Ricky Rapa Thomson (right) looks on. COURTESY PHOTO / SafeBoda
Green Hub

Co-founded by Kjaer Group/Motorcare and Nexus Green Ltd, Green Hub is a Ugandan e-mobility start-up with a vision to transform the country’s transport sector. By offering affordable e-bikes and establishing charging points in Kampala, Green Hub is playing a crucial role in promoting sustainable transportation solutions.

Watu

Watu is an asset financing company that is making electric boda bodas accessible to a broader range of riders through innovative financing solutions. By offering flexible payment plans and low down payments, Watu is empowering Ugandan riders to embrace electric mobility while also contributing to a cleaner environment.

MOGO Uganda

Part of the Eleving Group, MOGO Uganda is a FinTech company that provides financing for motor-based assets, including electric motorcycles. Through their sustainable financing solutions and low-maintenance electric bikes, MOGO Uganda is driving the adoption of electric vehicles and paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future.

SafeBoda

SafeBoda earlier today introduced Electric Bodas as part of their commitment to promoting sustainable transportation options. By collaborating with leading EV manufacturers and providing riders with access to electric bikes, SafeBoda is leading the charge toward a greener, more sustainable future for Uganda’s transport landscape.

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Empowering change through Electric Mobility

Beyond driving economic growth and environmental sustainability, Uganda’s electric revolution is also fostering social change and empowerment. Initiatives like SafeBoda’s Women on Wheels are breaking down gender barriers in the male-dominated “boda boda” industry, empowering women to embrace electric mobility and seize new opportunities for economic and social advancement.

Uganda’s electric motorcycle industry is poised for exponential growth, driven by innovation, sustainability, and a commitment to positive change. With key players like Spiro, GOGO Electric, Zembo, Green Hub, Watu, MOGO Uganda, and SafeBoda leading the charge, the future of transportation in Uganda is electric — and the possibilities are limitless.

ALSO READ: UGANDA’S ELECTRIC VEHICLE REVOLUTION: DRIVING TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

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