The future is green. This means different things to different people. But for a lot of people, it means a cooler world.
Unlike today where cities are characterised by emissions, congestion and safety issues, future cities will be greener, de-congested and safer.
One of the things standing in the way of this idyllic world is global warming. The world, scientists agree, has been heating up due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases, or what is known as global warming.
Despite the faint chorus of climate-change deniers, scientists have blamed global warming on human activities such as transportation.
Most of the cars, aircraft, trains, ships that transport people and goods run on fossil fuels, including diesel and petrol.
The cars are propelled by internal combustion engines (ICE), a heat engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidiser.
Not only is the rising price of crude oil making ICE cars unpopular, the fossil fuels running them are major agents of global warming.
Gradually, the narrative is changing against ICE cars as the voice for the climate agenda rises to a crescendo. Instead, a lot of countries are pushing for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) as electromobility or e-mobility takes sway.
The EVs include battery electric vehicle (BEV), hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).
E-mobility is the principle of using electric propulsion for cars, buses, trucks and ships, ferries and other sea-going vessels.
Although the technology to enable widespread adoption of e-mobility is still costlier for developing countries, Kenya has created for itself some space in e-mobility.
According to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Kenya has more than 20 start-ups dealing with different aspects of e-mobility, ranging from assembling two and three-electric wheelers, and electric vehicles importing, selling and dealership in charging infrastructure.
President William Ruto on Tuesday officiated the opening of a 50,000-capacity electric motorcycle plant. The plant is hosted in the country by a Swedish e-mobility firm Roam.
The President explained that the government has cut five key taxable areas linked to electric bicycles as part of the climate change agenda.
Dr Ruto said there will be a reduction in the 16 percent value-added tax (VAT) on all electric bicycles.
He added that spare parts, battery, battery parts, and charging equipment will be exempted from VAT while a lower electricity tariff will apply for charging stations.
“We want to have over 200,000 electric boda bodas by the end of next year. We have agreed with some companies and that is why we have reduced five different taxes,” the President said.
Kenya’s foray into e-mobility is not restricted to boda-boda.
On Wednesday, BasiGo, an electric bus company that started in Kenya, launched its Rwanda unit.
BasiGo, which was founded in 2021, has sold 19 electric buses to public transporters and reports securing reservations for more than 1,000 buses.
Last September, Kenya Power said it had set aside Sh40 million to buy three electric-powered vehicles by the end of June 2023 as it moves to phase out fossil fuel powered cars.
The power distributor had earlier invited expression of interest from e-mobility technology partners to design a charging infrastructure, billing and payment system and service management.
In developed countries, the adoption of e-mobility has been gathering momentum with EV sales in the US climbing by more than 40 percent since 2016.
Battery-powered cars are not new.
The car industry that took off in the 1890s was partly running on batteries. The industry was later revolutionised by Henry Ford’s Ford Model T that enabled industrial production of vehicles. But this came at a price — a growing oil industry and a wider availability of petrol that sealed the fate of battery power.
However, as countries set sights on decarbonising, economies are going back to the beginning with EVs. The need to decarbonise road transport has propelled EVs and PHEVs from 0.2 percent of new-car sales a decade ago to 13 percent in 2022, according to Bloomberg.
It was with Tesla’s arrival in 2003 that the battery-electric revolution began in earnest. China is leading in electric vehicles and is turning into a major player in e-mobility.
New regulatory targets in the European Union and the United States now aim for an EV share of at least 50 percent by 2030, and several countries have announced accelerated timelines for ICE sale ban by 2030 or 2035, according to McKinsey, a management consultancy firm.
On a global level, McKinsey expects electric vehicles adoption to reach 45 percent under the current regulatory targets.
Pushed by both regulation and changing consumer tastes, most carmakers have been pumping huge sums of in EVs, around $1.2 trillion by 2030, according to Reuters, a news agency.
GM, an American car manufacturer, announced that it would go all-electric by 2035.