The timing has never been more right for the introduction of electricity-powered vehicles in Kenya.
This move is geared towards solving two major problems facing not only the country but also the entire world. The first is the very high levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming. The second is the public health challenges associated with respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses resulting from pollution by exhaust fumes.
Many Kenyans may not be aware that the country has achieved the rare feat of significantly reducing the proportion of electricity generated from fossil fuels, particularly oil products and coal. Currently, more than 90 percent of Kenya’s electricity is generated from renewable sources. The government has the ambitious target of moving this proportion to 100 percent before 2030.
As such, increasing the number of vehicles powered by clean energy would, therefore, be a fitting aspiration for a country that is pursuing a low carbon development pathway.
From adopting electric two and three-wheelers to electric cars — light-duty vehicles (LDVs), electric personal cars and electric buses, electric mobility is a cost-competitive and effective solution for tackling air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.
Globally, it is estimated that the transport sector, which is hugely dependent on fossil fuel contributes about 25 percent of all energy-related GHG emissions with this number set to grow to one-third by 2050.
This makes the transport sector one of the leading sources of GHG emissions. Additionally, research shows that fossil-fuelled emissions also produce smog, soot and other harmful air pollutants.
Locally, the demand for motorcycles and three-wheelers (primarily used as taxis — boda-boda), has increased considerably in both urban and rural areas in the country. The cumulative total number of registered motorcycles as at the beginning of 2018 was estimated at 668,572 and with rising population and improving technology, it is projected that the number of two-wheeler motorcycles will have risen by more than 500,000 by 2030.
This has a significant contribution to the increasing level of emission of pollutants in the transport sector in the country.
Studies have shown that the cumulative carbon dioxide emission from two and three-wheelers is of the same magnitude as that from the LDVs.
The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority recently launched the Electric Mobility report that will inform electric motor vehicle policies for public transport in the country.
The report is implemented under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Electric Mobility Programme that supports the adoption of a sustainable low emission and cleaner transport system in developing and transitional countries.
The UNEP is supporting more than 50 countries and cities to introduce electric buses, cars and two and three-wheelers.
Kenya is a rapidly growing economy with an expected increase in the demand for transport as more people and goods and services move across towns and countries. As such, the time for Kenya to transition to electric motor vehicles is now.
The writer is Director-General, Energy & Petroleum Regulatory Authority.