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State of Kenya Transition to e-Mobility

Globally, electric mobility (E-mobility) is rapidly picking momentum with massive technology and capital deployed by investors on electric vehicles (EVs). Pursuant to the latest EV report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), electric car sales more than doubled to 6.6 million in 2021, representing close to nine percent (9%) of the global car market and more than tripling EV market share from two years earlier.[1]

[1] George Wachira, ‘Kenya needs to gear up for electric cars’ Business Daily (16 February 2022)

As e-mobility uptake rapidly progress globally, it is necessary to assess Kenya’s state of readiness for EV adoption. Therefore, some of the key questions that this article seeks to address include: Where is Kenya at in terms of EV adoption? What factors stimulate and which ones hinder EV adoption in the country? What are the building blocks for an efficient EV ecosystem in the country and what are the low-hanging fruits?

State of Play

Electrification of transportation is at the forefront in the climate change discussion in Kenya given that the transport sector approximately accounts for more than 13% of the total Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in the country.[2] GHG emissions from the transport sector have been on an upward trend as shown in figure 1 below, in line with the growth in in the number of motor vehicle registrations in the country (see figure 2); a statistic which is expected to continue rising owing to urbanization and rising incomes. Despite the growth in motor vehicle registrations, it is estimated that only about 350 EVs have been registered in the country (as per 2019).[3]

Figure 1: Trend of transport sector emissions, excluding waterborne navigation. Source: Transport Sector Climate Change Annual Report 2019/2020

The main players in the e-mobility space in Kenya are majorly private entities, with most of them being EV startups. These include:

1.1. Nopea Ride, a taxi hailing service company that uses only electric cars and which has established               three charging stations;

1.2. Roam Motors (Opibus) which designs, develops locally produced EVs and which introduced the first          Africa-designed all-electric bus in Kenya in January 2022;

[1] Siemens Siftung ‘E-Mobility Solutions for Rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Leveraging Economic, Social and Environmental Change’ (2020)

[1] Electric Mobility (Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority)

1.3. BasiGo which is developing business model to revolutionize the public transportation sector by                   providing public transport bus owners with a cost-effective electric alternative to diesel through                 Deposit and Battery Lease;

1.4. Kiri, whose business consists of assembling and selling electric 2 and 3 wheelers and charging                      systems; and EVM Africa which locally assembles EVs in Kenya.

Government entities that have expressed interest in plugging into the space include the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NaMATA) which Issued a tender for the lease of only electric or hybrid vehicles for use in the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system; Kenya Electricity Generating Company Plc (KenGen) and Kenya Power and Lighting Company Plc (KPLC) which plan to establish EV charging systems.

Figure 2: New Motor Vehicle Registrations 2016-2020 Source: KNBS Economic Survey 2021, Pg 226

During the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Glasgow in late 2021, world leaders, including Kenya, pledged to strengthen ambition towards collective climate action. The transport sector having been identified as a key contributor to GHG emissions, the Kenyan government has been taking active steps towards promoting green transport, stimulating the uptake of e-mobility, and promoting transition to a low-carbon economy. Some of the major initiatives include:

a) enactment of the Climate Change Act, 2016 and the Energy Act, 2019 with the motivation to reduce         GHG emissions by 30% by 2030, improve resilience to climate change and promote low-carbon                 climate resilient development;[4]

b) the planned use of electric vehicles for the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) system;

[4] Siemens Siftung (n2)

c) development of 21 standards by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) applying to electric vehicles          imported into the country; and

d) the reduction of excise duty from 20% to 10% with respect to EVs.


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