NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – On the crowded streets of Nairobi, Cyrus Kariuki is one of a growing number of motorcyclists who cut through traffic on an electric motorcycle, reaping the benefits of cheaper transport, cleaner air and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. planet in the process.
“Each month, nobody has to be burdened with oil changes, engine checks and other expensive maintenance costs,” says Kariuki.
Electric motorcycles are gaining traction in Kenya as private sector-led companies race to install charging points and battery exchange stations to accelerate the growth of cleaner transport and put the East African nation on the path of cleaner air. fresh and lower emissions.
But startups say more public support and better government schemes could help boost the industry further.
Ampersand, an electric mobility company based in Africa, started operations in Kenya in May 2022. The business currently operates seven battery exchange stations spread across the country’s capital and has already attracted 60 customers. Ian Mbote, the startup’s automotive engineer and expansion leader, says take-up has been relatively slow.
“We need friendly policies, taxes, regulations and incentives that drive market entry,” Mbote said, adding that favorable government tariffs in Rwanda have accelerated the growth of electric transport. Ampersand plans to sell another 500 electric motorcycles by the end of the year.
Companies say the savings of switching to electricity and using a battery swap system rather than charging for several hours is a key selling point for customers.
“Our batteries cost $1.48 to change a full battery which gives about 90 to 110 kilometers (56 to 68 miles) mobility compared to $1.44 for fuel which only guarantees a 30 to 40 mile ride. kilometers (19 to 25 miles) on a motorbike,” said Mbote.
Kim Chepkoit, founder of electric motorcycle company Ecobodaa Mobility, added that “electricity costs will be more predictable and cushioned by fluctuating fuel prices.”
Ecobodaa’s flagship product is a motorcycle with two batteries, making it capable of covering 160 kilometers (100 miles) on one battery charge. The motorcycle costs 185,000 shillings ($1,400) without the battery, about the same as a conventional motorcycle.
Other cleaner transport initiatives in the country include the Sustainable Energy for Africa program, which runs a hub for 30 solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles and battery exchange in western Kenya.
Electric mobility has a promising future on the continent, but “requires systemic infrastructure, societal and policy changes that do not happen overnight nor will they be immune to hesitation,” said Carol Mungo, a researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute.
The shift to electric transport “will require African governments to rethink how they provide current services such as reliable and affordable electricity” while at the same time putting in place adequate measures to address electricity waste and disposal, added Mungo.
Some financial incentives are on the way.
In early February, the African Development Bank announced that it will provide $1 million in grants for technical assistance in Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
The African continent records one million premature deaths annually due to air pollution, according to a study to be released soon by the UN environment agency, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the African Union obtained by the Associated Press.
Studies by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition say that a short-term reduction in climate pollutants could reduce the amount of warming by as much as “0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit), preventing 2.4 million premature deaths in around the world due to annual outdoor air pollution. ”
But Mungo cautioned that cleaning up transport is just one step of many towards better air quality.
“There are so many emission factors in cities,” she said. “Electric mobility, however, goes beyond the transport sector into infrastructure development and urban planning, which in the end can solve complex pollution problems in Africa.”
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