Ugandan ride-hailing startup, SafeBoda, is set to re-launch in Kenya via Nairobi, the capital city, in February, two years after pausing its services in the East African country.
A countdown on the company’s website indicates that Safeboda will reintroduce its motorcycles (bodabodas) ride hailing services back on Nairobi roads “in the next 13 days—February 4, 2024”.
SafeBoda suspended its operations in Kenya in 2020, choosing to focus on its largest market in Uganda due to challenging business conditions it attributed to COVID-19.
“While Nairobi is seeing some economic recovery from COVID-19, boda transportation has been hit hard. This has meant our business cannot sustainably operate in this environment, and unfortunately, the timeline for a full recovery is not certain,” SafeBoda explained at the time.
The company’s expansion into other African countries has encountered challenges. In 2020, SafeBoda ventured into the Nigerian market but withdrew in 2022, describing it as an “economically unviable market that required significant investment during a challenging time in the global economic landscape.”
However, the startup’s venture in Uganda has been largely successful, thanks to a supportive business ecosystem that bolsters its main activities.
“The unit value of our services in Uganda is significantly higher than in Nigeria, and our brand has deep roots. In Uganda, our boda and car services [core transport] work well with our parcel delivery, payments, and financial services products. We see growing cross-sell from our core transport use case,” said Alastair Sussock, Co-founder and CEO of SafeBoda, in a 2022 interview with a Ugandan publication. He highlighted that Uganda is a substantial market, with more than 1.5 million rides occurring every day in greater Kampala alone.
Motorcycles (bodabodas) are a primary mode of transportation for many Africans. Besides being a major source of employment, the sector has attracted investments from major local and global ride-hailing service providers like Uber and Bolt.