Kenya lays out fast-charging corridors for electric vehicles to ease range anxiety and fuel green mobility.
By Seth Onyango
Kenya is planning fast-charging stations at 25-kilometre intervals along its arterial highways to ease range anxieties among prospective electric vehicle buyers.
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This marks the nation’s most ambitious move yet to incentivise consumers to switch to EVs and develop a national charging network.
Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) unveiled the scheme as part of new guidelines for EV battery charging.
“At least one charging station should be available in a grid of three kilometres by three kilometres. Additionally, one charging station shall be set up at every 25 Km on both sides of highways/roads” it said in a statement.
“It is envisaged that there will be 700 in urban areas and 300 along highways”.
The effective date of the guidelines has been backdated to September 1, 2023, meaning the government will begin to ramp up the deployment of the charging ports.
It comes amid rising global interest in EV-compatible infrastructure, as car makers steadily increase the number of EV’s available to consumers, across all markets including in Africa.
Range anxiety, the trepidation associated with an EV’s battery depleting before reaching a charging point, has perennially been a deterrent for potential EV adopters.
By densifying the charging infrastructure, Kenya is not only assuaging this concern but also fortifying its commitment to a decarbonised transport paradigm.
But there is a caveat. EVs still remain comparatively more expensive than their fossil-powered peers, although prices have begun plunging as components get cheaper.
Epra notes that while the importation of electric vehicles in the country began about ten years ago, mainly driven by the private sector, there has been slow uptake of EVs partly because “electric vehicles are being deemed expensive compared to internal combustion engine models. Accessibility issues are caused by inadequate charging infrastructure.”
“With Government support, electric vehicles have started to penetrate the Kenyan market. However, there is currently no framework that encourages uptake and penetration through an enabling framework.”
The regulator is upbeat that an elaborate national charging network will ease consumer apprehension and drive EV imports.
According to German online data gathering platform Statista, battery electric vehicle sales on the continent remain the lowest worldwide.
South Africa, which has the most advanced e-mobility market in Africa, counted only about 1,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in 2022 – out of a total fleet of 12 million automobiles. Coupled with hybrids, the Rainbow Nation has 6,000 units. However, that is changing fast, with a wide variety of imported EV’s and hybrids now available. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, 232 EV units were sold.
Popular electric vehicles in South Africa include the BMW i3, Mini Cooper SE, and Volvo XC40 Recharge.
As of February 2023, there were 1,350 EVs registered in Kenya according to the National Transport and Safety Authority.