Ruto's green ride to KICC is a call for Africa to take up electric cars

President William Ruto rides the first Kenyan electric vehicle, Autopax, AirEv YETU, during the Africa Climate Summit. [PCS, Standard]

Sunday, September 3rd, 2023 will go down as a historic day for Kenyan electric vehicles community. On the eve of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, President William Ruto rode in the first Kenyan electric vehicle, Autopax, AirEv YETU.

His entire presidential escort motorcade of five automobiles and five outriders was fully electric. I can never thank God enough for honouring me to ride with the President in his car from State House Nairobi to the Kenyatta International Convention Centre and back.

Besides, the President allowed me to be part of his team for four straight days. I sincerely take this as the most irreplaceable reward for my three-decade green mission and above all the greatest honour to all Africans who dare to offer practical solutions to deal with effects of climate change. God bless your Excellency!  

Today, allow me to share with you three reasons why I think this ride symbolised Kenya’s ride into a future dominated by electric vehicles, climate resilience and green jobs.

Firstly, Autopax, the Kenyan company behind the electric car that the President drove, has proved Africa has what it takes to offer electric cars. Africa’s electric vehicle market was valued at USD 11.94 billion in 2021, and it is projected to reach USD 21.39 billion by 2027.

Kenya and Africa must tap into these billions as a solution to deal with Africa’s pressing transport fuel needs. As articulated in the Nairobi Declaration, this solution-oriented approach must now be an integral part of Africa’s climate journey.

The e-mobility wave is spreading across Africa. Senegal is going electric buses by 2024. Rwanda through an e-mobility strategy plans to be a carbon neutron economy by 2050. Kenya has just established an e-mobility association and in April, a private company launched 20 electric buses in Nairobi.

According to Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya, we have about 1,500 electric motorcycles and these numbers should grow exponentially because all big players including Bajaj, Honda and TVS are also going electric.

Secondly, by hosting the inaugural Africa Climate Summit where Rresident Ruto drove in a green ride, Kenya established itself as a climate leader in Africa. This will position our country as a favoured destination for climate financing.

Indeed, Kenya already secured climate investments totaling billions during the summit. I therefore call on the private sector to take full advantage of this conducive climate financing environment.

The Nairobi Declaration unveiled Africa’s commitment to all-encompassing climate resilience. It is therefore time for Africa to provide leadership in the climate arena.

Thirdly, e-mobility will galvanise Kenya’s economy. Just as mobile phone leapfrogged landlines and revolutionised phone communication so will electric vehicles revolutionise the transport sector. Indeed, e-mobility will put more money into Kenyans’ pockets.

In recent months, Kenyan commuters have had to dig deeper into their pockets as matatus and buses raised fares in tandem with rising fuel costs. E-mobility will slash these costs substantially and save money for ordinary people. Herein lies the power of electric vehicles to transform an economy.

According to Central Bank data, Kenya spent Sh750 billion to import fuel products from May 2022 to May 2023. Can you imagine that the President’s Autopax AirEv Yetu ride cost him Sh2 worth of electricity per kilometre? Can you imagine how much money would be left in our pockets if we went electric? Can you also imagine the green jobs that would be beckoning?

On the health front, EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, which can help improve air quality. This will boost our health and lower our mortality rate because in Kenya, over 5,000 people die prematurely annually due to outdoor air pollution.

Evidently, electric vehicles are good for our pockets; The President’s green ride further endorsed that they are good for the environment and our health. Think green, act green!