Nairobi, 5 July 2021 – Two start-up companies from Kenya and Uganda have received awards for innovative transportation solutions that could help Africa develop more inclusive and sustainable urban infrastructures.

UN-Habitat has supported work towards developing innovative ecosystems in Africa through affordable and accessible urban transport solutions offering more sustainable travel options, reduce travel time, cost and risk, as well as carbon emissions.

At a time the population of African cities is booming and the demand for better transport services is growing, such innovative transportation solutions help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals more quickly.

UN-Habitat set up the Transformative Urban Mobility Start-Up hub (TUMI Accelerator) at the University of Nairobi C4DLab in 2018. This was followed by the Africa Transformative Mobility Accelerator (ATMA), established in 2020, and implemented by the University of Nairobi C4DLab with support from Shell Foundation, the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI), the German Organization for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ), World Resources Institute (WRI) and UN-Habitat.

The Africa Mobility Initiative (AMI) Accelerator accepted eight start-ups for the 2020-2021 cohort from over 100 applications from Kenya and Uganda. These companies were selected through a competitive process through which they offered transformative, practical, well researched and tested solutions for urban mobility challenges in African cities.

The eight-month long acceleration programme, in which start-ups could further develop their innovative ideas and get mentorship and training from technical advisors around the world, started in 2020 and ended in May 2021. The companies were competing for a USD 25,000 grand prize while the first runner-up would get USD 10,000.

The Acceleration programme culminated in a final workshop, the Africa Mobility Initiative Summit, which ran from 27 – 28 May and brought together different players in the Kenyan, Ugandan and South African transport sector.

The competition’s winner was SmatBeba, a Kenyan online cargo marketplace that links cargo owners to truck drivers offering safe and reliable logistics in the process. The company provides a digital platform through which clients can track their goods in real-time.

The runner up was Easy Matatu, a Ugandan transportation company which provides clients with a platform to book seats in taxis (minibuses). Their vehicles stand out from the regular taxis in Uganda because they are clean, affordable and safer than others in the market.

During her keynote speech, UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif emphasized that “the world seems to be moving towards Smart Mobility. Indeed, to be ‘smart,’ mobility systems should reduce road crashes, air pollution, traffic jams and greenhouse gas emissions – and instead should provide efficient public transport, integrated with walking and cycling, and streets that are safe for everyone.”

For his part, Michael Muchiri from Kenya’s Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure Housing, Urban Development and Public highlighted ways in which start-ups can work with the Government to promote mobility innovations, adding that “as a Ministry, we are willing to engage with stakeholders. Our cities are growing and we need to solve the transport challenges.”

UN-Habitat, through its Urban Pathways and SOLUTIONSplus projects, will continue working with local governments and entrepreneurs towards the development and deployment of innovative impactful solutions in the transport sector.