Kenya’s quiet e-mobility revolution takes shape


A Private Company Ana Green Tech Africa in Partnership with Associated Vehicle Assemblers begins assembling of Electric three-wheelers (Tuk tuk) in Mombasa. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

As Kenya battles the effects of greenhouse gas emissions that have led to climate change, an increasing number of firms are embracing cleaner sources of energy to reduce carbon emissions.

But it is the rapid growth of electric bikes that promises to put Kenya on the global map in the shift to e-mobility.

Electric engines are gaining traction with the scaling up of investments in electric commuter buses and motorcycles as well as associated infrastructure such as charging points in a move aimed at achieving green transportation.

The latest is Ecobodaa’s battery-swapping charging technology. The Kenyan e-mobility start-up aims to achieve zero emissions on the distance covered as it provides affordable, connected electric motorcycles to riders in Nairobi.

The battery swapping system saves time for commercial motorcyclists and costs for the buyers as many sellers retain ownership of the battery, the bike’s most expensive part.

“The electric motorcycles have been able to save riders about Sh13,500 for a distance of 160km on fuel and 80 percent on servicing cost,” says Ishmael Abdalla, a sales agent at Ecobodaa.

Each of its 80 motorcycles costs Sh185,000 without the battery, an amount he says is roughly the same price as combustion-engine bikes.

Electric motorcycle manufacturer, Kiri Electric owns smart swap cabinets that provide 24-hour automated battery swapping to keep riders on the road without waiting for batteries to charge.

The average range is 70–80 km with a single battery, with an option of a second battery extending this to 150km. The top speed is 70km/hr with a carrying capacity is 200kg.

The electric motorcycle has a 3kW motor with a 72V 30 Ah battery (LFP), said Christopher Mukiri Maara, founder of Kiri Electric.

Kenya’s start-ups Roam rapid and BasiGo, continue to cement their position in the electric vehicle market as the momentum for clean energy solutions to reverse the effects of climate change accelerates.

BasiGo last December upgraded its fleet to 15 electronic vehicles and aims to have 1,000 by 2025.

“The transition has seen the electric bus company avoid up to 61 metric tonnes of carbon emissions to the environment, and save up to 25,000 litres of diesel over 134 electric kilometres covered,” said the company.

For the Swedish-Kenyan tech company Roam, it covers a range of 360km on a single charge with its 384-kWh battery. For the bus to return to full capacity, charging will take less than two hours.

“Due to increased fuel prices, it also reduces operational costs by up to 50 percent. This ensures operations are maximised and maintenance costs are reduced for bus operators,” said the firm.

Electric mobility firms have also geared up towards the carbon emission eradication initiative by installing charging stations for electric vehicles.

ChargeNet Kenya, which is a subsidiary of Mayleen Corporation, was the first to launch into the market one-of-a-kind electric vehicle charging points in Nairobi to aid in the transition to clean energy as well as bridge the gap in the transport sector through the adoption of electric mobility.

So far, the firm has installed nine electric vehicle charging hubs in Nairobi.

Dowgate Properties, a real estate company, made its first regional installation in Naivasha, the first outside Nairobi, as it sought a piece of the rapidly growing market.

The charging station will serve electric vehicles plying the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

The State-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company last year announced it would install 30 charging stations this year, joining the race to phase out gasoline and petrol-fuelled vehicles to help reduce carbon emissions by fossil fuels.

In Kenya, the transport sector, particularly road transportation, is one of the main sources of climate-damaging carbon emissions, attributed to the predominant use of fossil fuels for vehicle propulsion systems.

According to Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, a greater degree of electrification of the transport sector could make a major contribution toward achieving Kenya’s transport sector goal of reducing emissions by 3.46 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent against the baseline in 2030.

Last year, Car & General (C&G) started selling electric vehicles and tuk-tuks as part of a plan to diversify into green mobility amid a push to address climate change and pollution.

E-mobility remains a critical issue, not only in Kenya but also in a global push to reduce pollution with clean-powered vehicles that will significantly cut the reliance on diesel and super.

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