At a Roundtable on E-mobility for 2 and 3 Wheelers hosted by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals (P4G) on July 9, 2021, leaders in e-mobility highlighted the great opportunity that electric mobility offers in reducing air pollution, increasing good, green jobs, and aligning Kenya’s growth with its climate and sustainable development goals. Participants from government, civil society and the private sector identified key elements and opportunities needed to scale up e-mobility solutions in Kenya, including through enabling regulatory frameworks and driving innovative financial models.
Nicholas Nesbitt, Ex-Officio Director, KEPSA and P4G National Platform Co-Chair welcomed participants and emphasized how the private sector plays a significant role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Kenya’s market-driven economy. In calling partners to broaden efforts for sustainable transport electrification, Nesbitt cited the goal of ensuring that 20% of all vehicles are electrically powered by 2030. “Businesses have the power to innovate, to bring solutions to create real transformative solutions to some of our systemic social economic problems such as low carbon emission transport,” Nesbitt stated.
Shifting to the policy perspective, Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo, CBS, Ministry of Environment and Forestry reiterated Kenya’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement in updating its Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030. With 2- and 3-wheel vehicles being 10-times more polluting than 4-wheel vehicles, and projected to almost triple in numbers by 2030, transitioning to electric mobility offers enormous potential for meeting Kenya’s climate goals. Through a national strategy for sustainable transport, shifting to electric bikes in Kenya will reduce costs, limit pollution, and create jobs. Kiptoo called on the private sector to render their full support as their inputs prove critical in developing the financial mechanisms needed to enable an e-mobility transition in Kenya.
Esther Gacanja, Principal Economist, Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Work, shared the Ministry’s findings on Kenya’s favorable situation for the electrification of transport in a way that will provide mobility for people and goods while creating new value chains. Gacanja emphasized the need to improve financial access and new business models to overcome high initial costs of electric vehicles, enhance public awareness, build capacity, and explore the possibilities of local assembly, which has the multiplying effect of supporting Kenya’s manufacturing strategy.
In a discussion about the drivers, barriers and opportunities for e-mobility in Kenya, Elisabeth Biber, E-mobility and Development, Siemens Stiftung, presented on the P4G partnership Accelerating E-mobility Solutions for Social Change. The partnership worked with local manufacturers to pilot electric motorcycles, identify necessary policy reforms to strengthen local value chains, and understand the finance needs to promote start-up businesses in e-mobility. Biber also underscored the importance of establishing a national standard for the charging sector, implementing de-risking instruments to increase the access to finance, and increasing the access to information and public awareness of e-mobility.
Ambassador Dennis Awori, Chairman and Country Delegate, Toyota Kenya and CFAO Kenya and P4G Board Member, emphasized that with the motorcycle market in Kenya growing rapidly, and 2- and 3-wheelers being among biggest polluters, transitioning to electric vehicles represents a huge opportunity to align Kenya’s growth with the Paris Agreement. He noted that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in his address to boda boda operators last year said that motorcycle assembly and manufacturing is the silent growth sector. The new electric bikes should not only meet consumer needs but perform better than fossil fuel motorcycles, with excellent driving range and power specifications. “Only if we have the right product in the market that we will be able to attract financiers who are absolutely critical to the industry’s growth,” he stated. Ambassador Awori also highlighted how a transition to e-mobility can drive greater information technology connectivity as batteries, bikes, and payment systems communicate through mobile apps and operation centers.
The roundtable also focused on how to accelerate e-mobility market development. Wanjira Mathai, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, World Resources Institute (WRI), highlighted the need for sustainable clean mobility and efficient transport systems as urban growth accelerates, especially considering its role in addressing poverty reduction and job creation. Mathai noted that Kenya has a clean and sufficient electricity generation, making e-mobility a viable alternative and critical part of the national strategy.
Pawan Mulukutla, Director Electric Mobility, WRI, then shared success stories from several countries across Asia and Africa, including India, where demand incentives and favorable policies have led to 540 electric mobility enterprises, $860 million investments in the e-mobility sector, and over 500,000 jobs created. Mulukutla concluded that the key factors to achieve electrification include conducive policy and regulatory environments, public-private partnerships for infrastructure and innovation, and creation of a strong manufacturing base.
Wrapping up the roundtable, Leila Yim Surratt, P4G Director of Strategy and Engagement, shared P4G’s approach to accelerating the transition to e-mobility and green growth, and moderated a discussion, which included comments from Kenyan private sector leaders on how to use existing network of outlets to achieve intended progress on e-mobility. Isaac Kalua, the Chairman of Motorcycle Assemblers Association of Kenya and Chairman of Honda Motorcycles Kenya, joined in the discussion, noting that 3.3 million liters of fuel are currently used every day, showing the opportunity to reduce pollution and reliance on fossil fuels, and that the motorcycle producers are committed to supporting e-mobility in Kenya. As noted by Nesbitt, “It will happen if we have this close collaboration and everyone gets on the same page, so we can save the planet and keep Kenya even greener.”
The roundtable was followed by informational session on P4G’s Call for Partnerships, encouraging e-mobility partnerships to apply for funding.