First Place Winner; 2023 Energy Innovation in LMICs Global Case Writing Competition
Sammy Kalunji, 36, a low-income self-employed motorcycle taxi microentrepreneur in Kampala, Uganda, decided to buy an electric motorcycle with a rechargeable battery. He is one of about 250 such pioneers in low-emission transportation in this major (and air-polluted) city in west-central Africa at the end of 2022. However, operating in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, he does not receive enough income to fully provide for his family. This is true, despite the fact that his electric motorcycle (known as an E-boda) has substantially lower operating costs than his former petroleum-powered one (known as a P-boda).
This case elaborates on four financial, operational, commercial, and social organization models and alternatives Kalunji must navigate so that he and his fellow E-boda riders can harness economic opportunities emerging from this new low-carbon urban transportation solution, and be recognized as making an essential contribution to the transition to green urban mobility in Kampala.
Ultimately, the case takes the perspective of low-income groups adopting low-carbon mobility innovations while working in generalized informal market conditions. It reflects and critiques the global Northern concept of social and environmental “sustainable innovation” as it is exported to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with the risk of making such innovations unsustainable by themselves.