Kenya’s commercial bike riders commonly known as the Boda Boda have geared up to embracing needed technology to boost their trade as they now have navigation feature on google.
Google launched its motorcycle mode feature on Google Maps on 15 October in Kenya, a first in Africa where motorcycle use is very widespread due to poor infrastructure, absence of reliable public transportation, and increasing urbanization that is fueling congestion. Called boda boda in Kenya, the new routing mode offers turn-by-turn navigation, avoids restricted roads, suggests routes and shortcuts that are more efficient, and shows accurate arrival times.
The feature was first introduced in India last year and is currently available in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand.
“The motorbike, or ‘bodaboda’, has become a popular way to get around in Kenya with over a million Kenyans using motorbikes as their preferred mode of transport,” Google said in a statement.
“Today, for the first time in Africa, we’re excited to announce a dedicated travel mode for motorcycles, which will provide directions and voice navigation. We hope that Motorbike Mode will help keep Kenyans on the move and we’ll be working to make the feature even more useful in the coming months.”
enyansend is one leveraged by Nigerian ride hailing service Gokada, which connect users to the nearest motorbikes within their area, and also by international ride-hailing services like Uber and Taxify, who have customized their products to allow riders to hail a boda boda in Nairobi or even a three-wheeled tuk-tuk in Mombasa. These options are often faster and cheaper options than car taxis, making them attractive to customers.
The launch follows the company’s efforts to extend its reach across Africa scouting for investment opportunities to deepen their operations and provide support to more entrepreneurs. In April, the company announced the launch of Google Go in Africa to bypass slow and expensive internet speeds. It also introduced YouTube Go in Nigeria and South Africa, an “offline first” version of the video streaming platform, allowing users to preview and download videos, rather than stream, and essentially save on data costs.
Google’s Street view service, which offers a 360 degree image of a street or area, made a mini debut in Kenya in 2015 when Samburu National Reserve was added on to the map feature. Now the service allows locals and tourists to explore up to 9,500 kilometers (5,900 miles) of roads including in coastal cities like Mombasa.
Google also announced a $1 million Google.org initiative to provide digital skills training to more than 100,000 smallholder farmers in low-income and rural Kenya in the next year in partnering with Kenya’s One Acre Fund.
Last year, the company announced initiatives aimed at getting people in Africa the right skills and tools to make the digital world work for them, their businesses and their communities. According to Google, the digital skills program has trained more than 2.5 million Africans, training over 200,000 job seekers and over 400,000 businesses in Kenya. Also, more than 9,000 Africans developers are on their way to becoming Google certified. About 10,000 developer scholarships are set to be announced later this month with Pluralsight and Andela to continually support developers in Africa.