Every week, African Start-Up
follows entrepreneurs in various countries across the continent to see how they are working to make their business dreams become reality.
Up to 13,000 people die in traffic accidents on Kenyan roads annually, according to a report from the World Health Organisation
. But two brothers, Charles and Joseph Muchene, are hoping to stem the number of fatalities with their wearable tech venture, CladLight.
"We put lights on that vest and the lights are controlled remotely so they indicate clearly the intents to turn right, left or break when you are riding your motorcycle," says Charles Muchene.
"We are expecting to bring sanity onto our roads," he continues. "And we are hopeful that we will have a reduction of accidents that are happening," adds Muchene. "If measures are not taken, we are going to have even double the number [of fatalities on the roads]."
Bright Oywaya, the executive director of the Association for Safe International Road Travel
, says the main causes for the high number of accidents are speed, drink driving and law enforcement.
"Also, lack of infrastructure because the roads do not cater for the different users," continues Oywaya, whose passion for road safety began following a 1997 road accident that left her paraplegic.
"There are no crossroads anywhere and so actually 47% of the deaths are actually pedestrians, according to the last report I saw by the police."
Muchene agrees that drivers are the root of the problem. The young entrepreneur says it's a common tradition to gift high school graduates a motorcycle upon completion of their education -- but adds that that very few riders enroll in driving school to learn Kenya's road rules.
"There are so many motorcyclists that are everywhere," he says. "It is very high risk. Most of them are reckless drivers."
Meanwhile, government authorities and local road safety bodies are also working to tackle the escalating problem. Since last year, officials have stepped up efforts to crack down on road rule-breakers, setting up checkpoints to ensure drivers have licenses and are wearing helmets and high-visibility jackets.
With high-visibility jackets mandatory by law, the Muchene brothers are hoping to work with motorcycle manufacturers to infiltrate the marketplace with their product.
"We are sourcing partnerships with motorcycle assembly plants in the country so once you buy the motorcycle you are given the jacket for free," says Muchene.
"Once we see that there's a good number of guys having the jackets, and it's having the impact that we intended to have that is the reduction of motorcycle accidents due to poor visibility, we'll venture into other markets," he continues, revealing the startup's future plans to expand its operations beyond Kenya.
"As we go along," he continues, "we will come up with better products and more innovative solutions to address challenges in our society through wearable technology."