Kenya Power to rollout electric car charging stations


Power supply for electric car charging. PHOTO | POOL

Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC has unveiled plans to roll out electric vehicle charging points as it eyes new revenues streams and boost demand for cars that don’t use petrol and diesel

The electricity distributor said Tuesday it would build a nationwide network of public charging points, removing one of the hurdles for use of electric cars in Kenya.

Kenya has joined the global push to promote the use of electric vehicles and reduce reliance on petrol and diesel. Fuel products are the country’s biggest import item.

Analysts acknowledge the high price of electric cars would not appeal to most African consumers but said scaling up production and favourable government policy could help bring prices down.

“As part of our implementation plan, we are developing appropriate infrastructure and building internal capacity to enable us to support the use of electric vehicles across the value chain,” said Kenya Power managing director Bernard Ngugi yesterday.

“To this end, we plan to set up charging facilities across the country beginning with Nairobi to support direct charging of vehicles,” added Mr Ngugi without giving timeliness.

Kenya Power is expected to set the electric car charging points along major highways, parking lots and malls.

Kenya Power joins Kenya Electricity Generating Company #ticker:KEGN (KenGen), which also recently announced it is investing in electric car charging system.

Scaling up the project will see both Kenya Power and KenGen generate revenue from vehicle owners who will require to charge their vehicles but this is heavily dependent on the technology picking up locally.

The use of electric vehicles has been gaining momentum in Western countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and the US as the world turns attention to cutting down on carbon emission.

However, the high price, insufficient charging infrastructure and energy-storing batteries have been cited as the main challenges for the adoption and growth of the electric vehicle industry in African countries such as Kenya.

The average price of an electric car is Sh6 million, which compares to a second-hand SUV imported into Kenya.

Imported used cars from Japan or the Middle East have offered an affordable route to vehicle ownership in Kenya and dominated the market for decades.

Nopia Ride, a taxi-hailing service that only uses electric cars, is scaling up operations in Kenya.

The firm has so far installed charging stations in three locations, including the Two Rivers Mall, the Hub Karen and Thika Road Mall.

An electric vehicle runs on the power stored in batteries. The batteries take about an hour to fully charge and can drive for up to 250 kilometres.

Excise duty

To help encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, Kenya reduced excise duty on the cars from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has also adopted electric vehicle standards.

Kenya Power in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Wednesday unveiled a pilot electric bikes project in Kenya.

Under the pilot, the electricity distributor will receive 50 e-bikes for its meter readers that will be used to test the usage of the motorcycle in Kenya.

The UNEP-backed pilot includes ministries and counties and uses bikes donated by Shenzhen Shenling Car Company Limited.

It will involve employees of various agencies using electric bikes in their day-to-day activities and will last 6-12 months.

“Kenya is importing more motorcycles than cars, doubling its fleet every 7-8 years.

“These are generally inefficient and poorly maintained polluting motorcycles,” said Joyce Msuya, UNEP Deputy Executive Director.

“Shifting to electric bikes in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere will reduce costs, air pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, as well as create jobs.”

Uganda and Rwanda are racing ahead of their East African neighbours in the global switch to electric motoring, even as infrastructure shortcomings limit investments in the emerging sector.

Both Kampala and Kigali in 2019 unveiled electric vehicle assembly plants, blazing the regional trail with Kenya and Tanzania only making baby steps toward embracing the new technology.