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Smarter mobility needed in major Kenyan towns

Changing how our cities move will open up more opportunities for residents and visitors. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Changing how our cities move will open up more opportunities for residents and visitors. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Mobility has a permanent spot on Kenyan urban residents’ list of the top five pain points. This cuts across the divide whether you commute on public transport or have the arguable benefit of owning a car.

As urban populations continue to grow the pressure on infrastructure and the environment increases. The desire of the working class to own personal cars exacerbates the matter.

Numerous research has been done on smarter mobility, mapping the problem and even assigning a monetary value to the impact of inconvenient public transport on the economy. However, these efforts often fail to provide recommendations to remedy the impact of our rapid urbanisation.

Bogota has been the poster child for the transformation of mass transit and we have had our fair share of benchmarking trips to learn what can be applied.

I must insist that the creation of any policy frameworks and their execution must be tempered by local context and relevance; that while we can learn from what others have done we must be bold enough to imagine our own solution mix and not follow a standard template.

Even as parastatals such as the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority work to actualise their road map, the question for me remains; how much of a pain is the status quo?

Are the residents of Kenyan cities sufficiently inconvenienced to a point of behaviour change?

Are sector investors willing, or at the bare minimum open, to making changes that create better revenue opportunities and reduce risk?

The world is moving fast towards integrated multi-modal and on-demand mobility models.

The prestige assigned to vehicle ownership is fading fast and a rising consumer baseline for quality service has emerged. The technologies that underpin this new way are already well developed as are the business models that support them.

Changing how our cities move will open up more opportunities for residents and those that visit daily, often in the millions, to transact business or consume services.

It will also be a golden goose for savvy investors and entrepreneurs that build out sticky propositions in a vertical that come rain or shine claim a share of the consumer wallet.

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