The boda-boda taxis are part of the African bicycle culture; they started in the 1960s and 1970s and are still spreading from their origin on the Kenyan - Ugandan border to other regions. The name originated from a need to transport people across the "no-mans-land" between the border posts without the paperwork involved with using motor vehicles crossing the international border. This started in the southern border crossing town of Busia (Kenya/Uganda), where there is over half a mile between the gates, and quickly spread to the northern border town of Malaba (Kenya). The bicycle owners would shout out boda-boda (border-to-border) to potential customers - not to be confused with poda-poda, which is a form of shared taxi in Sierra Leone.
In many East African and Central African cities and villages, professional bodaboda taxi-drivers are common. Bodaboda organizations have been founded in many towns. They help to minimize the risks (dangerous driving, badly maintained bikes) by registering and licensing their members.
While the boda-boda bicycle is still spreading to other areas, in its area of origin, especially in cities in Kenya and Uganda, the bicycles are more and more replaced by motorbikes. The motorbike-taxis have taken the name bodaboda as well. Other local names have been coined for the motorbikes; they are known as peng' in the Nyanza province of Kenya. In 2004 it was estimated that more than 200 000 men in Uganda were working as bicycle bodaboda and already almost 90 000 as motorized motorbike bodaboda.