First things first, thank you for sparing some time to go through my other article. If you did so, then you might be wondering why you have not seen one on a Kenyan road.
If you have seen one then count yourself lucky, because there are very few in this country (my folks back in my rural village haven’t even heard of one. Imagine what will happen if they actually see one)
As much as these EVs have more advantages than ICE vehicles, they are definitely more expensive than their ICE counterparts.
To own an EV within the Kenyan borders, you have to part with almost one million shillings more than an ICE vehicle of the same performance.
Well, at least for now.
Because once production has been ramped up, economies of scale will surely bring the prices down. So,
..at least for the next few years or so, and you will get an EV almost at the same price as that if an ICE vehicle.
Despite EV technology having rapidly progressed over the years, the batteries still remain their Achilles’ heel. Most, if not all, use lithium ion batteries (some use lead-acid batteries), and there are serious environmental issues (i.e. pollution) when it comes to mining and extraction of raw materials (lithium in this case) and also manufacture of the batteries.
There are very few places on earth where lithium ore is mined, hence this restricts global supply and ensures prices of lithium ion batteries remain high (and nobody wants that, except some few selfish people)
It is important to note that proper EV charging infrastructure has not been installed. At the time of writing this article, there are only three EV charging stations in Kenya; at Two Rivers Mall, at TRM mall and at The Hub.
Obviously more charging stations are needed to be constructed in order to realise the dream of electric mobility in the country. Also, most EV batteries are designed to be charged at 120VAC supply, but domestic supply is at 240VAC. This means that the EVs require extra charging equipment, which can add to the already high cost.
There is this issue of charging duration for the EVs. if it is desired to charge at home from a conventional power outlet (240VAC, 15A) then it takes eight hours for full charge, which can be done overnight.
Fast charging is done using specialized equipment which deliver massive amounts of power at direct current (usually up to 120kW), and takes about 30 minutes.
In some EVs, an empty battery pack can be swapped with a fully charged one. This further minimizes the charging time, hence very convenient during busy hours.
This country generates more than enough to satisfy electricity demand, and almost 80% of it comes from renewable sources, which is a good thing. Electricity access rate is also encouraging, since it stands at around 75%, according to the Ministry of Energy.
The government is aware of the benefits that come along with EVs. in line with this, KEBS has set up standards for importation of electric vehicles and motorcycles. The government also reduced excise duty for EVs from 20% to 10% to reduce the price and encourages foreign EV makers to export even more.
I just hope that it can implement awareness programmes to educate the masses about EV, because most people are still in the green.
Besides reducing pollution and being economical, the adoption of electric powered vehicles in the country will create a lot of employment opportunities, both directly and indirectly, in the automotive, IT and electronics industries.
There will also be opportunities in industries such as local assembly and maintenance of EVs, deployment and operation of charging infrastructure and reuse or recycling of the batteries upon expiration.
Therefore, there is need (an almost urgent one considering the high unemployment rates we are currently witnessing) for capacity building through training on development, deployment and maintenance of e-mobility infrastructure.
According to a study by the European Association of Electrical Contractors, a total of nearly one million permanent jobs could be created globally in fields such as electricity generation, civil and road works, battery cell manufacturing, installation and maintenance by the year 2030. These are high quality, local, jobs which do not contribute to environmental degradation.
Some serious amount of research is being done in to the improvement of EVs. for instance, there is a possibility of charging an EV while it is in motion on the road. This can be done via induction charging.
The viability of this technology is still being tested, as its development is still in the early stages.
Mr. Trevor Jackson invented an improved version of the aluminium-air battery, the most energy dense type of battery ever made. preliminary tests on this battery have shown to double the range of most EVs.
I am happy to report that there are several EV start-ups around the country, which have begun to cash in on the economic benefits brought about by electric mobility.
One of them is Nopia Ride, is the first fully electric ride sharing app established in August 2018.
(By the way this was the first agency to import the first electric car, the Nissan Leaf). It charges less and pays its drivers more than its competitors, besides making more money than them, thanks to EV advantages.
Opibus is a green energy company that deals with conversion of ICE vehicles into EVs. It initially targeted off-road vehicles, like the ones used by tourists.
Solar E-Cycles develops solar powered light electric vehicles can travel 50 km a day just with power from the solar rooftop. Besides, it is relatively cheap and can be a very good option for transport, especially in the off grid rural areas
So, if you are still wondering why EVs are not that common in this part of Africa, just hold your horses. You will be seeing a lot of them in these coming years.
You might also be inspired to buy one yourself once conditions for purchase and maintenance become favourable. The future can only be brighter