Kenya's e-mobility revolution to start with boda bodas

To completely meet our e-mobility ambition and catch up with global EV leaders, every industry player has to have goodwill and intentionally do their part.

Only then can we start seeing tangible penetration in the space.

For the two-wheelers for example, there are multiple startups in the country creating solutions and enabling bikes to enter the EV space. Kenya's motorbike market is over 1.5 million riders strong and growing. As Kiri EV's founder Christopher Maara explains, two-wheelers will lead EV opportunities for penetration in the Kenyan market.

"There is an opportunity to convert two-wheelers to electric and it's the market where people buy new bikes, unlike second-hand cars. So this is the place where e-mobility will pick up quickly," he said.

"Our bikes are 10 per cent more expensive than petrol ones but in about six to eight months you'd have made your money back on petrol savings."

The firm's bike will do about 60-70 km (kilometres) on a full charge which costs Sh50 when charged at home.

Compared to petrol where a litre will do 30 km, you can see that you are saving even more than half just on petrol.

"When it comes to running cost, maintenance, and operations, this bike doesn't have a lot of moving parts, the only thing you are servicing is brake fluid and brake pads. On this, we are saving you about 60 per cent of your maintenance cost," he said.

The trouble with EVs is charging infrastructure and the price tag which is related to the cost of the battery. The battery is so expensive when they wear, you'd rather park than repair.

Khadija Abubakar the site manager at EVChaja, Kenya's first network of electric vehicle charging stations says their goal is to make this easier by installing more charging stations across the country. "We install charging stations, so we have different locations, Nanyuki, Mombasa, and two in Nairobi and we are currently doing more installations because more charging stations make it easier to own EVs in the country," said Khadija

Ampersand, a two-wheeler e-mobility company has multiple battery-swapping locations, making it easier for riders to shift to electric bikes. The advantage of EVs is they have low maintenance costs owing to the absence of a gearbox and engine.

Even though we can see electric vehicles on the road, most of them are expensive making it a rich man's option.

The vehicle is originally expensive and a heavy tax on EVs explains the price tag. Two-wheelers have a practical entry point because boda bodas do a lot of shuttle runs which is suitable for an electric vehicle and the price tag is almost practical.