As the election madness starts to die down (hopefully), the trip back to our common shared reality will be short one. While the politics of the day may be termed as divisive, we are viewed from the same lens when it comes to our daily afflictions. In the top five of any urban residents list of pain points, matters mobility have a permanent spot. This cuts across the divide whether you commute on public transport, leverage on-demand options or have the arguable benefit of owning a car.
As urban populations continue to grow the pressure on infrastructure and the environment increases by a similar factor while the desire and aspirations of the working class for the ownership of depreciating assets by way of personal motor vehicles exacerbates the matter.
Numerous research efforts have been applied toward the quest for smarter mobility mapping the problem well, even assigning a value to the inconvenience as a monetary dent on the economy but often failing on the recommendations to remedy or at least flat line the impact caused by rapid urbanization. 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 to imagine our own solution mix and not follow a standard template.
Even as parastatals such as NAMATA work to actualize their road map, developed in conjunction with a number of foreign technical aid organizations and various stakeholders, 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 behavior change? Are sectors 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 multimodal and on-demand mobility models, the prestige assigned to vehicle ownership 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.