State imports 10,000 electric bikes, each to cost Sh160,000

President William Ruto during the launch of the national e-mobility program in Mombasa County. [PCS]

President William Ruto has said his government is keen on phasing out over two million fuel-powered motorcycles as the nation ushers in the era of e-mobility motorcycles.

The President on Friday launched the first 1,000 e-mobility motorcycles.

Ruto said he has commissioned the importation of 10,000 e-mobility motorcycles into the country.

While speaking at Mama Ngina Drive in Mombasa County, Ruto said Kenya will from Monday host a high-level climate change conference in Nairobi as a champion of fighting global warming and combating carbon emissions.

The president said that by the end of the year, Spiro will have set up an assembling plant for electric motorcycles in Changamwe.

"Today we have made a great milestone and achievement towards reduction of carbon emissions in our cities by launching 1,000 e-mobility motorbikes. I have already authorised the importation of 10,000 more and in six months we shall start local assembly and in a year's time we shall have a factory in Kenya," said Ruto.

He welcomed other players on board in the move to help phase out the two million bodabodas.

Ruto said that the e-mobility bikes will be affordable to bodaboda operators saying a bike will cost around Sh160,000.

He said the bodaboda operators have been charged exorbitantly in the past by players in the industry with some paying as much as Sh300,000 for the fuel-powered motorcycles.

He said those who will prefer to buy on credit will do so at a rate of 10 per cent.

"As the last mile transportation to cargo and people, you are the unsung heroes and deserve support from the government because you are a pillar of this government and hardworking," said Ruto.

The government has partnered with Spiro, manufacturers of the electric bikes, Kenya Commercial Bank, and Safaricom to avail a seamless payment model that will see the bodaboda operators automatically deducted Sh180 per day from the normal rates of between Sh400 and Sh500 per day in the previous transactions.

"In the finance bill, we removed some taxes to help the e-mobility motorbikes to be available at a cheap price. After the removal of tax, we were able to reduce the cost of bikes from Sh270,000 to Sh160,000 for those purchasing in cash. Even if you take it on credit, you will be able to pay Sh190,000," said Ruto.

The President further said the operators will save on fuel costs as the charging costs will not be as high as the cost of fuel.

Ruto noted that the sector despite being a major last-mile transportation of cargo and people, is riddled with over 3,000 deaths annually.

He said the e-mobility motorbikes shall have speed governors and dash cameras to monitor and regulate overspeeding.

"The bodaboda sector has been a sector with a lot of accidents recording 3,000 deaths annually. We shall regulate the speed to ensure the safety of riders and their passengers," he added.

Ride-hailing firm Uber on Thursday launched an electric motorbike service in Kenya, its first in Africa, as the company seeks to make its global platform emissions-free by 2040.

The rollout in Kenya will be followed by a "potential announcement" this year for the rest of its markets in the region, said Kagiso Khaole, Uber's general manager for sub-Saharan Africa. [Joackim Bwana]

Additional reporting by Reuters

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