By Ahumuza Polycap
Kampala based start-up Zembo is leading the campaign to streamline Boda Boda transport business by making it user friendly and a reliable income earner for young people, in a bid to manifest Ugandan road have seen the introduction of the first ever clean air around the city while also offering affordable electric motorcycles for boda-boda riders.
Founded in 2017, by two engineers, Daniel Dreher and Etienne, Zembo, a motorcycle and battery solution is developed and designed for needs of the Ugandan population including improving ; transport conditions, air quality for everyone and to reduce CO2 emissions.
Zembo is environment friendly as it has safe and high capacity lithium batteries emitting no CO2, no particles, no pollution. The batteries are recharged in 3-4 hours with solar energy at charging stations across the city, where a full battery charge can last 50-80km.
BATTERY SWAP MODEL
Riders do not need to buy vehicle batteries, or wait around while they recharge. Riders can rent batteries and replace a discharged battery for a newly charged one in under 2 minutes at the various battery stations.
AFFORDABLE LEASE-TO-LEASE SOLUTIONS
Zembo offers an affordable lease-to-own solution where riders who lease the bikes become owners after 2 years. Furthermore riders do not need to buy batteries but rent them out, and with the reduction of electric vehicle costs, over 60% more income can be generated by riders.
RELIABLE AND DURABLE
The motorcycle parts are imported from China but designed and assembled locally, to create vehicles that are reliable, durable, comfortable, clean and automatic (easier to handle) – this comes in handy where motorcycles carry all manner of loads.
Zembo hires local talent to assemble the bikes, and in the future they hope motorcycles can be produced entirely in Uganda to create further job opportunities, reduce dependency on imports and allow easier repairs.
The innovation comes at a time where Uganda has emerged as one of the largest importers of motorcycles in the East Africa region importing over 600,000 motorcycles. In Kampala alone, around 150,000 drivers accumulate their daily income by riding a boda boda.
Despite being one of the main drivers of the economy, the boda-boda revolution has come at a cost.
Overtime, boda-bodas have confronted environment concerns, becoming one of the leading causes of carbon emissions and pollution in Uganda, a country where where air quality is considered amongst the worst globally.
Furthermore high fuel prices and maintenance costs have put a strain on driver’s daily income and the lack of financing solutions meaning they can never quite save enough to buy their own motorcycles.
It’s by no surprise that boda bodas have turned into the main form of transportation, serving a population of approximately 2 million people.
According to survey by Private sector foundation Uganda [PSFU] shows bodas account for over 40% of the trips in Uganda’s capital Kampala, and have as a result become one of the biggest drivers of the economy.