Motorcycle sales fell 53.9 percent last year, pointing to an easing of demand from the public transport and courier services sector, which have been the main users of the two-wheeler equipment.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that newly registered motorcycles fell from 285,203 units in 2021 to 131,513 units in 2022.
Motorcycles are popular with Kenyans seeking to beat traffic jams in congested towns and cities or tackle difficult terrains in rural areas with impassable roads.
They are also popular for the delivery of lightweight goods including food, shopping, and parcels.
Courier firms and technology-enabled delivery platforms are among the major users of motorcycles alongside individuals operating boda boda businesses.
The sharp fall in sales seen last year contrasts with the previous year’s significant jump in orders.
New motorcycle registrations rose 15.6 percent to 285,203 in 2021, up from 246,705 in 2020.
The numbers had been rising steadily in the past few years before the decline registered in 2022.
The rapid growth of motorcycle transport has seen the government raise taxes on the machines, ultimately making them more expensive.
The excise tax on motorcycles, which previously stood at Sh10,000 per unit, has grown to the current Sh12,953 per unit.
The excise is adjusted upwards in line with the average rate of inflation in the preceding government’s fiscal year which ends in June.
The motorcycle transport sector is now one of the largest employers.
Studies estimate the earnings of the boda boda riders at around Sh1 billion in a day.
A study of the sector by listed firm Car & General (C&G), which sells motorcycles, their spare parts and other engineering equipment, shows that it also supports six million livelihoods indirectly, about 10 percent of the country’s population.