Google has announced that it will finally be making its Motorbike Mode navigation available in Google Maps for the first time in Afrika. The feature will first be introduced in Kenya and will offer motorbike riders, who are mostly "boda boda" drivers who transport people, turn-by-turn voice navigation.

As part of this announcement, Google also launched the Street View service in Kenya.

Street View on Google Maps in Kenya. Google Africa

"Every day we make decisions about where to go, how to get there when to set out; and Google Maps can help with these choices. The motorbike, or ‘boda boda’, has become a popular way to get around in Kenya with over a million Kenyans using motorbikes as their preferred mode of transport. 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."

Digital boda bodas

There has been a surge in bike-hailing startups in North America and parts of Europe recently. In Afrika, however, the use of motorbikes as a means of public transportation has been around for several years although it is only in recent years that we are starting to witness technology startups building digital platforms and creating business models around boda bodas, just like their counterparts in other parts of the world.

Motorbike Mode on Google Maps in Kenya. Google Africa

One such startup is Uganda's SafeBoda. The startup not only makes it possible to book a boda boda via an app but has gone a step further by implementing some safety standards to make boda boda rides safer. With the introduction of Motorbike Mode, which is only available in Kenya for now but likely to spread to other countries in Afrika, this likely means an improved service for both the startup, its community of riders, and more importantly customers.

Boda bodas have also not escaped the attention of Uber and Taxify in Kenya. Both ride-hailing services have customized their platforms in Kenya to accommodate for the hailing of boda bodas and tuk-tuks.


Cover image credit: Entebbe, Uganda. iAfrikan Digital