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Kenya mulls ban on petrol and diesel cars as world goes green

The government has constituted a task force to explore possible elimination of petroleum-powered cars by 2030. [iStockphoto]

The government has signalled it will join the line of pioneer nations queuing around the world to ban the sale of diesel and petrol-fuelled vehicles.

A new State plan seen by The Standard shows Kenya is gearing up to ban the sale of combustion-engine vehicles by 2030 in a move that would have a huge impact on the local auto industry.

The government has consequently constituted a task force to begin studying when to scrap local production, sale and import of petrol and diesel cars - but hints that 2030 would be an ideal date.

The road map, though, shows there is no concrete date yet for such a measure.

Fossil fuel-powered cars, buses and matatus emit a big share of the carbon dioxide in Kenya’s urban areas daily, according to local environmental experts and government.

The push to promote the use of electric vehicles would therefore reduce reliance on petrol and diesel.

Petroleum products are the country’s biggest import item and their supply disruptions have systemic implications on the economy.

“Increasing levels of pollutant emissions are of global concern. Promotion of e-mobility is one of the strategies being adopted worldwide to combat greenhouse gas emissions and resultant climate change,” says the Transport Ministry in its proposals.

“At present, Kenya’s transport sector is heavily reliant on fossil fuel and following the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, Kenya made a commitment to reduce emissions by 32 per cent by 2030.

“This target can be achieved if Kenya transitions to zero-emission vehicles.”

A ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars would be a boost to the makers of electric vehicles and shake up the country’s vibrant auto industry.

It would follow decisions by global economic giants France and Britain to eliminate combustion-engine vehicles from 2040 to clamp down on harmful emissions.

The use of electric vehicles has been gaining momentum in Western countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and the US as the world turns attention to cutting down on carbon emissions.

Petroleum products are Kenya’s biggest import item. [iStockphoto]

However, the high prices of the vehicles, insufficient charging infrastructure and energy-storing batteries have been cited as the main challenges for the adoption and growth of the electric vehicle industry in Africa.

The average price of an electric car is Sh6 million, which compares to a second-hand SUV imported into Kenya.

The Ruto government is keen to grab a lead in the global race to ­develop electric cars, both to clean up the heavily congested capital city and to secure a leading place in the car industry of the future.

The Kenya Kwanza administration is providing ­billions in incentives to automotive companies to develop electric car technology, offers which have attracted a host of international car and electric bikes’ makers.

President William Ruto, who is hosting the continent’s first climate summit, said on Friday that his government will adopt “innovative, clean and sustainable energy and transportation technologies.”

He said this will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also provide cheaper transport and spur the growth of the electric vehicle industry.

Kenya Power also earlier revealed plans to set up electric car charging points along major highways, parking lots and malls.

President Ruto last week noted that two and three-wheeler vehicles comprise the largest share of the national fleet and are mostly used by those at the bottom of the pyramid.

“The adoption of electric mobility is a priority intervention to address the challenges of pollution,” he said during the launch of the national e-mobility programme at Mama Ngina waterfront, Mombasa.

He assured bodaboda operators that the transition to e-mobility will significantly boost their incomes.

“Electric bikes are cheaper to run than petrol,” he said.

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