The transport industry is growing rapidly in Kenya as it is globally. The government has undertaken large infrastructural developments to strengthen the country’s position as the leading regional transport and development hub for East Africa.
Therefore, the E-mobility is a good opportunity for Kenya to reduce emissions from transport and improve the quality of air. Despite this being a positive move to curb climate change that has been experienced around the globe, Kenya's shift to electric mobility is still low. This is as a result of less public charge stations as well as not enough sensitization on the importance of EVs.
The electricity used is from renewable energy sources such as hydro, geothermal, wind and solar to minimize overall emissions. Kenya’s energy mix is very favorable to support e-mobility with nearly 85% of our energy coming from renewables. This is a great opportunity for Kenya.
The integration of electric mobility presents an opportunity to rethink the prevailing transport paradigm and build an interlinked, low-emission transport system with low levels of pollution.
In Kenya, the transport sector, particularly road transportation, is one of the main sources of climate-damaging CO2 emissions. This is because of the dominant use of fossil fuels. A greater degree of electrification of the transport sector, can therefore make a major contribution toward achieving Kenya’s transport sector goal of reducing emissions by 3.46 MtCO2e against the baseline in 2030.
Diesel vehicles in particular, are also making it more difficult for many cities to comply with the annual average air quality tolerance limits for residential areas, of 60 micrograms per cubic meter for nitrogen dioxide, and 140 micrograms per cubic meter for suspended particulate matter that has been in effect since 2014. It is currently estimated that there are about 350 electric vehicles (EVs) registered in Kenya. This figure is out of a total of 3.5 million registered vehicles of which we estimated only 2.2 million to still be on the road.
There are numerous possibilities to charge the battery of an electric vehicle:
- Wall boxes: wall-mounted boxes specially designed for charging electric vehicles
- In-house electrical installations, e.g. using a socket specifically designed for charging purposes
- Charging stations installed specifically for electric vehicles
With battery-electric vehicles, there are three different systematic approaches for charging batteries:
- Cable-based charging
- Battery swapping
- Inductive charging
Cable-based charging is currently the standard form. Battery swapping has so far not become widespread, in part because there are no standardized batteries for all electric vehicles, in particular, electric motorcycles. Inductive charging is currently in the testing and development phase.
Electric vehicle companies in Kenya
There are several EV companies that have taken the initiative to shift from combustions. Here are some of them:
i) Nopea Ride- is the first fully electric ride sharing app established in August 2018. Hailed as an ‘eco-taxi’, it offers zero-emission rides allowing the company to charge less compared to other ride hailing apps, pay their drivers more and protect the environment. The company is truly competitive in the market as drivers do not pay for fuel, enabling them to make more than their competitors. The company is scaling up, building charging stations at Two Rivers Mall, The Hub and Thika Road Mall, JKIA airport, Solar charging hub at Strathmore University.
ii)Roam- is a Nairobi based green energy company that deals with electric vehicle conversion. Its initial focus has been on conversion of off-road vehicles, for safari use. They currently developed electric motorcycle through their subsidiary Flux Motors18, and now they launched a 66 capacity electric bus that is operational and runs on Thika road.
iii) Solar E-Cycles develops electric bicycles, scooters and 3- and 4-wheel vehicles. The solar powered light electric vehicles can travel 50 km a day just with power from the solar rooftop. The three wheelers can serve as replacement for tuk-tuks' (auto rickshaw) which are popular in urban areas for short distances. The inexpensive solar car can serve as a sustainable economic development tool in isolated off-grid rural areas in Africa.
iv) Drive Electric offers services such as charging station installation, operation and maintenance, e-mobility consultancy, electric vehicle leasing and fleet analysis.
v) BasiGo- The company has two K6 Electric Buses are now in pilot operations with CitiHoppa and East Shuttle. Bus passengers in Eastern Nairobi now have the opportunity to experience an electric bus first hand. The buses run on routes between Allsops and JKIA, and Dandora and Nairobi Stadium.
Current Ongoing Programme in Kenya
- Knowledge products on electric mobility: The government in partnership with development partners is developing knowledge products on electric mobility with a view on building public interest on the subject (E-mobility). These include production of a fact sheet detailing the state of Kenya’s advancements on issues of electric mobility.
- Public and private sector engagement: proactive engagement of stakeholders from both public and private sector is happening on a continuous basis. The objective of the consultation is to identify barriers that hinder the uptake of electric mobility in Kenya and provide corrective measures.
- Reduction of excise duty on electric vehicles: The Finance Bill of 2019 has proposed reduction on the excise duty for all vehicles with only electric motor for propulsion (BEVs) from 20% to 10%.
- Development of standards for electric vehicles: with support from development partners, GIZ and UN Environment, the Kenya Bureau of Standards has developed and adopted standards that would apply to electric vehicles imported into the country. Up until now, a total of 21 standards have been developed and adopted, covering specifications and testing procedures for safety aspects as well as performance and power consumption elements.
- Support and endorsement of private and development sector support: The government is involved in E-mobility pilot with UN-Environment where they will engage the City of Kisumu and Kenya Power through deployment of a total of 50 electric motorcycles on a pilot basis. Through support of GIZ, the government is also engaging the private sector with interests of identifying impediments in the EV business.
i) Electric mobility brochures: https://www.changing-transport.org/wp-content/uploads/2019_Electric_Mobility_in_Kenya.pdf
ii) Mitigation potential of electric mobility: https://www.changing-transport.org/publication/ghg-mitigation-options-for-kenya/
iii) UN Environment’s Electric Mobility Programme: https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/transport/what-we-do/electric-mobility