On Monday the 15th of October, 2018, technology giant firm Google introduced a motorbike mode feature on its Maps to offer routes options, traffic information, and voice navigation service for riders in Africa for the first time in Kenya.
Français Résumé: La société de technologie Google introduit une fonctionnalité de mode moto sur ses cartes, proposant pour la première fois des itinéraires, des informations de trafic et un service de navigation vocale aux coureurs africains (notamment au Kenya).
Kenyan roads are full of motorcycle taxis, known as "BODA BODAs" that are much cheaper rides to car taxis but streets in Kenyan cities and towns are often poorly signposted and frequently congested, making it hard for "BODA BODA" drivers to pick up customers when they hail them by phone.
“For over a million Kenyans, "BODA BODAs" are a convenient and affordable way to move and transport goods from one place to another,” Google said in a statement.
Why the motorbike mode feature on Google Maps?
“With Google Maps’ new Motorbike Mode feature, users across Kenya are now able to get directions and turn-by-turn navigation, to suggest routes that are more efficient,” Google explained. This is to resolve around the often poorly signposted and frequently congested streets in Kenyan cities and towns that makes it hard for "BODA BODA" drivers to pick up customers when they hail them by phone.
“What prevents us from picking some clients is lack of navigation. If the road doesn’t have a clear name and you are new to the area, you get lost,” said Ben Chelule, a 24-year old "BODA BODA" driver in Nairobi.
Where else is the motorbike mode feature in service?
The feature was first introduced in India last year and is currently available in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, where motorcycle use is very widespread. Google also announced it would launch the Street View service in Kenya, allowing locals and tourists to explore up to 9,500 kilometers (5,900 miles) of roads including in coastal cities like Mombasa.
Other Google functionalities set to come along with the motorbike mode introduction in Kenya?
Google also said it was launching its Street View service in Kenya for the first time, allowing users to virtually explore via its images 9,500 km (6,000 miles) of roads in cities such as Nairobi and holiday destinations such as Malindi on the coast.
The company has also set aside 100 million Kenyan shillings ($992,000) to train Kenyan farmers in digital skills, it added. Google’s Kenya manager, Charles Murito, said the company had targeted farmers because it employed 40% of the population and accounted for a third (1/3) of gross domestic product (GDP).
“We want to see the power of technology elevate small scale farming. We hope that through this initiative, we will see a positive impact in food security, job creation and GDP growth in Kenya,” he said.
Do you think motorbike mode feature if enrolled in most of the African cities and towns would rectify on issues such as traffic delays, complicated connectivity, and unreliable "BODA BODA" safety???
By Joseph Semuju
Community Manager - AMO
African Mobilities Observatory - AMO, MICHELIN
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Message was edited by: Joseph Semuju