Dialogue on Fossil-Free Mobility Options in Kampala Highlights the Electric Boda boda

Published By UNNGOF |  December 12, 2022

By Kimbowa Richard, Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development (UCSD)

UCSD, JEEP, INFORSE East Africa, and TEENS Uganda organised a public dialogue on July 14, 2022, at JEEP Folkcentre – Kyanja to mark World Environment Day 2022 on the theme: ‘Fossil-free mobility options in Kampala.’ This was a follow-up to the national celebrations held on June 5, 2022, in Luweero District on the theme‘Our Earth, Conserve for Life.’  

During the dialogue, presentations were made by Mr. Richard Hamba of TEENs Uganda on Kampala’s Non-Motorised Transport PlansMr. Shaduracka Monday, BodaWerk International Ltd on ‘The Electric Boda (E boda)’: Solution to the current high fuel prices and deterring dirty air release in Kampala?and Mr. Hamza Bahati, a Zero Emission Motorcycle Boda – Zembo Boda user sharing his experiences of using the E Boda in Kampala. 

At the opening session, Ms. Sylvia Nalubwama – JEEP’s Head of Programmes, noted that Ecycles/E bodas are timely interventions that should be scaled up to address the current challenge of high fossil fuel prices on which many motorcycles and vehicles rely. 

Mr. Hamba noted that TEENS Uganda works with various actors, including the Kampala City Council Authority, to promote Non-Motorised Transport (NMT). He outlined efforts to encourage the NMT, opportunities, and challenges for Kampala and its neighbourhoods, outlining proposals for improvement. He informed the participants that there is a need to fight the mindset, attitude, and perceptions over the use of bicycles as an option for only the poor. He added that Uganda’s transport strategy needs to be fully integrated with its climate change policy, pointing out that the transport sector accounted for approximately 66% of its total energy-based emissions based on the Country’s First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC in 2019.

Shaduracka Monday compared the annual cost of using the E boda and the conventional fossil fuel motorcycle. He informed the participants that much as the initial cost of acquiring the E boda might appear high, in one year only, the low maintenance costs could offset these costs due to the use of electricity (lower cost and stable price) as opposed to fossil fuels whose prices frequently fluctuate, in addition to related repair costs.

“Bodawerk’s E boda does not need major repairs. A single full charge can cover up to 120 kilometres (which a motorcyclist might not even complete in a day). This distance would be relatively expensive to the conventional motorcyclist based on the current fossil fuel prices,” Shaduracka pointed out.

Hamza Bahati shared personal experiences since he acquired the Zero Emission Motorcycle Boda (ZEMBO) Electric motorcycle, noting that he wishes to purchase another one given the range of advantages it offers over the conventional fossil fuel motorcycle and the current high and unpredictable fuel prices in Uganda and globally. An exciting ‘open space’ followed, where Boda boda operators working close to JEEP Folkecenter joined participants to interface with Bodawerk International and Hamza, the ZEMBO E boda user.

The 2018 World Air Quality Report puts Kampala as having the second worst air in Africa due to dirty air characterized by smoke from car exhaust, industry, residential trash burning, road dust, and soot from indoor biomass-fuelled cookig stoves.

According to the National Environment Authority, over the last five years, urban areas in Uganda have consistently registered readings that are ten times above the World Health Organization recommended levels of 2021.