“It was late. Later than trotros would normally be plying the roads. Besides, at that hour, it would mean a lonely walk from the junction to my house in the dark. I was not looking forward to that. I would have to take a taxi … if only I could find one around that time of night”.
This story is not strange to most people who have been out at night in the city. We’ve come a long way since these days, but convenient mobility is still a change in this part of the world. Through our concerted efforts, we plan on making a difference in this area.
African Mobility as a phenomenon
Everyone is going somewhere, and Bolt is making it possible across the continent in general and the major cities of Ghana in particular.
According to the organisers, ICLEI Africa, an international non-governmental organization that promotes sustainable development, “African Mobility Month advocates for people-centred, low carbon and resilient mobility that contributes positively to urban citizen’s health and wellbeing by promoting sustainable and equitable mobility and transport in African cities.” This campaign looks to elevate mobility trends through sharing of knowledge and experiences.
Because of the importance of easy navigation through Africa’s cities for economic reasons – that is, to facilitate the movement of persons, goods and services – it is crucial that stakeholders in both the public and private sectors remove barriers to transportation. These challenges include inefficient public transportation systems, inadequate road networks, unavailability of alternative means of urban transportation (cycling, trains, boats) and escalating prices of movement.
African Mobility Month was thus established to highlight factors that will improve mobility within African cities even as populations expand and urbanisation grows.
These solutions are mostly built on innovation as a vehicle through which these can be made accelerated. Thanks to ride-hailing apps like Bolt, cities are getting more connected, giving commuters broader access to modern transportation options for modern-day life, and this is worthy of celebration.
Navigating the city from our phones
As Bolt Country Manager in Ghana, I encounter stories of how Bolt offers real-world impact on the lives of our riders, mobility solutions that did not exist 10 years ago. An example could be a nurse who starts her shift at 6:00 am, meaning she leaves home an hour earlier. A Bolt comes straight to her gate, saving her a walk-through isolated streets.
With just the benefit of their phones, Ghanaians can access to transport to their destination. And with Ghana having a significant penetration of mobile phones, Bolt has proven to be an inclusive means of going from one point of their city to the other and connecting people.
Sustainability is also a pillar of African Mobility Month. The effects of climate change are being felt across the world, and environmentally friendly means of transportation are being encouraged, where possible.
In this regard, Bolt – aside putting riders and drivers together through the app – is also making a big contribution to climate change. The fuel-efficient cars that most drivers use mean that carbon emissions are lower per trip and better for overall air quality. It also means that with drivers parked while waiting for riders, they burn less fuel looking for business, which is a boost for the environment.
Though built on an infrastructure of internet connectivity, Bolt is also working to improve mobility among the population without ready access to the internet. Bolt has begun the piloting a dispatching service in Ghana called “Call-A-Bolt,” allowing users to order a Bolt ride with a free phone call (0800 400 400). This way, people who seek access to mobility will have the opportunity to reach their destination without any barriers to entry and drivers will have access to a pool of people who were previously alienated from reliable transportation.
Bolt beyond African Mobility Month
Bolt has a presence in over 70 cities across Africa. In Kenya, for instance, Bolt operates an electric vehicles category as a response to climate change, reducing the exhaust fumes emitted by Bolt rides. In South Africa, couriers have the opportunity to utilise electric bicycles to deliver Bolt Food orders. With cycling as an environmentally friendly means of transportation, Bolt has found a way to add it to its product offering, which is a plus where innovation is concerned.
Bolt in Ghana is in the process of rolling out further green initiatives to lessen the impact of urban commuting on the planet while sustaining the livelihoods of drivers – and to an extent, riders as well. We invite all serious entrepreneurs to help us grow this sector.
In May this year, we launched an electric vehicle category in Ghana to encourage more electric vehicle owners to sign up on the platform to grow the supply of electric vehicles in this category over time.
As African Mobility Month draws to a close, we celebrate all our partners who have made Bolt Ghana’s most reliable ride-sharing service. While we recognise that there are still challenges to efficient mobility within our cities, we can look to the future with hope. We see opportunities to grow, connecting Africans to one another, to their dreams, and to a sustainable future. Day or night, near or far, there’s a Bolt near you.
David Kotei Nikoi is the Country Manager for Bolt in Ghana.
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