Nairobi C4DLab raises funding from UN-Habitat for bike-sharing pilot

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The University of Nairobi’s innovation hub C4DLab has received KES1 million (US$9,900) from UN-Habitat to pilot a bike-sharing concept aimed at reducing over-dependence on motor vehicles by students at the university and beyond.

C4DLab has been a hive of activity in recent months, with the hub signing partnerships with both UNICEF and Intel, while also accepting four Kenyan startups into the first cohort of its Africa Technology and Innovation Accelerator (AfTIA) programme

The latest development sees the hub partner UN-Habitat, raising funding for a bike-sharing project in lune with non-motorised transport (NMT) policy launched by the Kenyan government in early 2015.

UN-Habitat’s Urban Mobility specialist Stefanie Holzwarth said it was long overdue for this policy to be implemented efficiently.

“For Nairobi alone, the potential for adopting the bike-sharing concept is high. Why, in our much recent study on how Nairobians travel, we found that about 45 per cent of the commuters use matatus and buses, 36 per cent walk,18 per cent use cars and two-wheelers, and only four per cent bicycles, yet of all the means, riding a bicycle is the most advantageous,” she said.

“Even so, in our study again, up to 40 per cent of Nairobians would use a bicycle as an alternative means of transport, but the major problem is lack of appropriate infrastructure including reserved bike lanes, docking spaces, stations, and terminals; as well as personal attitudes where those using bicycles are perceived broke or poor or just plain impractical when there are fast and possibly cheaper means.”

C4DLab coordinator Dr Tonny Omwansa said the success of the project would require the direct involvement of a wider array of stakeholders including corporates, the Nairobi City County, traffic police, and the National Transport and Safety Authorit.

“But we are determined nevertheless to work towards that end with whatever helping hand we will get, beginning first by creating massive awareness on using bicycles as the preferred means of transport as it is more important than even the revenue model itself,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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