The Future of African Mobility
“Walking, cycling or using public transport should not be seen as secondary to driving the own vehicle…The City has for a long time focused its plans in terms of transport towards the car, but now as a rapidly growing city we are changing our mind set. The City of Windhoek is ready to take the challenge to become a SMART and Caring City by 2022, including SMART mobility solutions.” Muesee Kazapua, Mayor of the City of Windhoek.
In a city where the greater part of the population (who fall primarily in the low-income bracket) spends up to 25% of their disposable income on transport – mainly in the form of the taxi – there is an increasing need for more affordable, reliable and sustainable alternatives. While the bicycle is often seen as an ideal solution, in Windhoek it is not the most preferred form of mobility, and not surprisingly, as the climate tends to be hot, the environment hilly and the roads make no provision for the safe movement of cyclists.
In 2012, with the introduction of the Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan (SUTMP), developments towards Non-Motorised Transport (NMT), in specific walking and cycling, started to enjoy priority as fundamental focus of the future transport system of the City. A NMT Strategy was launched, identifying barriers and concerns and highlighting priority areas to implement a network of safe routes over the coming years (2019-2035), comprising a total of 315 kilometres.
While the implementation process is still under discussion, in recent months there has been a number of key developments towards the promotion and support of NMT in Windhoek, mainly through the private sector. One such driving force is the social enterprise, Ebikes4Africa.
As the country’s first e-mobility service provider, the company has been making waves with their locally designed solar-powered electric bicycles, better known as SunCycles. Since introducing the first E-Bike to Namibians at the end of 2014, the start-up has grown from strength to strength, introducing sustainable mobility solutions to users in remote and rural areas, including tourism establishments and lodges, farmers, game guards and anti-poaching units, kindergarten teachers and entrepreneurs, as well as to commuters in larger towns and urban areas. Till date, around 250 SunCycles E-Bikes have been deployed at more than 20 destinations around the country, and the green footprint continues to grow.
On Tuesday 12 November, Ebikes4Africa was awarded as one of four winners of the Business Financial Solutions (BFS) – GreenTec Capital Partners Start-Up Studio, which is “aimed at supporting high potential start-ups and SMEs scale by providing them with customized operational and professional support." Speaking at the launch, the managing director of BFS, Kaunapaua Ndilula, said the current challenges faced by start-ups and SMEs in Namibia require incubation and funding solutions and as a result, BFS aims to contribute to the transformation of the structure and composition of the economy. She added, “It is my sincere hope that we will continue to tap into the power of collaboration. Because we collaborate, we not only bring out everyone's best, but we also turn ideas into collective intelligence, which allows us to achieve better results.”
In addition, the enterprise has received both local and international recognition for their work in cleaner mobility, including being selected as the Namibian representative of the prestigious Entrepreneurship World Cup. Led by the Misk Global Forum and the Global Entrepreneurship Network, it is seen as “one of the biggest and most diverse startup competitions and support programs of its kind", featuring 100 entrepreneurs selected from more than 100 000 entries from over 187 countries! As part of a rigorous selection process, the competition entailed an online application and the submission of a pitch video, before Ebikes4Africa co-founder Marita Walther was shortlisted as one of four female-led enterprises in Namibia, and after deliberations by a panel of judges, selected as the national winner. Following the results, she had to take part in a six-week online Accelerator Program, before making it through to the Top 100 Global Finalists. This opportunity allowed Marita to take part in a series of events aimed at shaping global leaders, creators and thinkers to become active participants in the future economy. These included a Boot Camp held from 9-10 November at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, and pitching to an international audience at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh from 12-14 November, both in Saudi Arabia. Says Marita, “I’ve been humbled by this extraordinary opportunity to be selected as part of an exclusive global network of aspiring and inspiring entrepreneurs, all of whom do remarkable work in their communities and are driven to create solutions to shape a better future.” According to the organisers, EWC Global Finalists represent the best emerging startups from the fastest growing industries in the world, including Biotechnology & Health, Renewable Energy, Mobility, Deep Technology, New Economy and Agribusiness, among others.
Apart from the above-mentioned, in 2019, Ebikes4Africa has also been awarded the National Energy Globe Award and Namibia’s Best Social Impact Startup as part of the Southern Africa Startup Awards. Constantly working to increase awareness around more sustainable transport alternatives, Marita Walther has been invited to form part of a panel discussion on ‘Smarter Mobility to Achieve Liveable Cities’, during the inaugural Smarter Mobility Conference, held in Pretoria, South Africa in early October, and will be presenting on ‘How E-Mobility is Changing the Face of Rural Mobility’, as part of the Women in Transport Conference, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 4-6 December.
While this year has certainly proven that mobility in Namibia is moving towards more future-friendly alternatives, next year holds even more promise with the introduction of a pilot project in partnership with the City of Windhoek. Details can’t be disclosed at this point, but we invite you to watch this space! The future of African mobility is bright!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or visit our website at www.ebikes4africa.org or social platforms Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn(@ebikes4africa).
Images can be downloaded here.
 City of Windhoek Non-Motorised Transport Strategy, Final Report, May 2018
 More info at: https://entrepreneurshipworldcup.com/ewc-overview/
 More info at: https://www.energyglobe.info/namibia2019?cl=en&id=340073