The campaign for EVs in Kenya continues its march

The campaign for EVs in Kenya continues its march

Electric vehicles (EVs) are not new to Kenya; they have been present in the country for a while. In 2019, the number of electric vehicles stood at over 300. Since then, the number has increased as companies like Nopea Ride continue to rely on electric cars. Also, some individuals have started making the shift. This has been due to these vehicles being more affordable and charging stations becoming widely available.

Apart from that, the government has continued to encourage the use of electric vehicles through several policies. For example, the government reduced the excise duty for fully electric cars from 20% to 10% to encourage their purchase and shift to fossil fuel cars that are harmful to the environment. Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has also developed and adopted standards for imported electric vehicles. Over 20 policies and standards have been adopted covering specifications and testing procedures for safety aspects and performance and power consumption elements.

One of the goals of the Kenyan government is to increase the uptake of electric vehicles to account for 5% of all registered vehicles in the country by 2025 and ensure all public building include charging stations.  

Kenya currently produces a lot more power than its current demand, giving it enough electricity to adapt to electric cars. A large percentage of electricity produced in the country is from renewables; hence electric vehicles are environmentally friendly. Some companies have invested in electric vehicles in the country as more and more continue to join in; for example, Nopea Ride was 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. 

Roam (Opibus), a Nairobi-based green energy company that deals with electric vehicle conversion, has also focussed on off-road electric vehicles and motorcycles. Another private company to join the electric vehicle market is BasiGo. This Nairobi-based company launched the first electric bus in Kenya, targeting investors in the country’s public transport sector. It has partnered with PSV operators such as Citi Hoppa and East Shuttle to ply several key routes in Nairobi City with plans to scale up in the coming months. The firm targets introducing over 1,000 buses into the country’s transport sector by 2027, creating additional demand for renewable energy.

Other firms, such as Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), also have stepped-up preparations for a shift to e-mobility. KenGen announced plans to roll out an electric car charging facility to handle the growing number of electric vehicles and the low number of charging stations in August. Recently, joining the bandwagon for e-mobility is Kenya Power, which has started working towards constructing electric charging systems for the public.

In August, the company started seeking a firm to build an e-mobility network infrastructure system (ENIS) in Nairobi and Nakuru to pilot the charging stations. This will entice more people around the country to start investing in electric cars. Once the pilot is done, the implementation phase will follow, whereby ENIS will be scaled up across the rest of the country.

Additionally, the electricity company has placed a budget to phase out its vehicles from those that rely on fossil fuel to electric cars. It has set aside over Sh40 million in this financial year to facilitate the pilot of phasing out fossil fuel cars. The company will start by purchasing three electric vehicles that will act as pilots and demonstrate to the public. The electric company hopes to completely change its vehicles in the coming years.

Kenya is in a race against time to reach up to the rest of the world, which is leagues ahead in the shift to clean mobility to reduce pollution to the environment. Other East African countries, such as Uganda and Rwanda, have already made major steps in developing electric vehicles.  They have implemented several measures, including reducing electricity tariffs for EVs, zero VAT on EV parts, exemption from import and excise duties, and rent-free land for charging stations. They are in line with the European Commission, which wants to ban the sale of diesel and petrol-powered vehicles by 2035. If Kenya wants to reach up, there will be a need for policies that promote EV development.

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