The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has declined to renew the operating license of Bolt, a popular ride-hailing service, in Kenya. This decision has sent shockwaves through the country’s transportation sector and left many questioning the future of the ride-hailing service in Kenya.
The move comes just weeks after the Estonian mobility company announced its plan to invest €500 million in Africa. An investment that is aimed at expanding its services in the region and creating employment opportunities for more than 300,000 new drivers and couriers in 2023.
The Root of the Issue
The NTSA’s decision stems from Bolt’s alleged non-compliance with the Transportation Network Companies (TNC), Owners, Drivers and Passengers Regulations, 2022. These regulations, published on June 20, demanded that licensing be obtained before transport network providers and companies could use their apps in the country.
The Deadline and Aftermath
Drivers and passengers who failed to apply for a license by September 18 were not given access to services. The NTSA gave existing and potential
taxi-hailing companies 14 days starting on October 14, 2022, to submit an application for licenses as Transport Network Companies.
However, Bolt’s bid to renew its operating license was rejected by the NTSA over claims of non-compliance. In response to this, Bolt has stated that they are fully compliant with the NTSA’s regulations and the stipulated licensing requirements.
The Organization of Online Drivers announced plans to boycott services under the Uber and Bolt platforms effective from November 21. This move is likely to impact both drivers and passengers who rely on these platforms for their daily commute.
While this development poses challenges for Bolt, it also opens up opportunities for other compliant platforms like Little, Hava Cabs, and Yego Mobility. As the dust settles on this issue, it will be interesting to see how the landscape of ride-hailing services in Kenya evolves.
The refusal by NTSA to renew Bolt’s license in Kenya underscores the importance of regulatory compliance for businesses operating in this space and signals potential shifts in the market dynamics of ride-hailing services.