The global electric vehicles market is rapidly growing with over 80% of sales in all vehicle segments by 2050 are expected to be electric. Electric two-wheelers have the highest degree of electrification today in African and Asian markets. Increased sales in electric vehicles will be driven by favorable regulations and policy, improved unit economics including cost per unit of EV sold and the development of technology that is contextually viable for each region.
Kenya has announced intentions to eliminate imports of all second-hand cars by 2026 and therein lies an opportunity to invest in and support the influx of electric vehicles. Two- and three-wheelers are the most feasible for EV adoption in Kenya due to the increased convenience, availability and road structure in the region. Kenya is currently a hotbed for innovators and entrepreneurs within the electric mobility space with most companies requiring support to scale -up. Electric vehicles being assembled in Kenya include motorbikes, cars, tuk-tuks and scooters.
Manufacturing Africa ran a 2-week pilot in Nairobi with some of the biggest players in EV assembly and charging in Kenya to test the economics and performance of locally assembled electric motorbikes. The following start-ups were invited to participate in the pilot:
Electric vehicle assemblers:
Fika clean mobility
The test objectives for the pilot were:
1. To test the economics of locally assembled electric motor bikes , including how motorbikes riders’ profits compare with internal combustion engine bike owners
2. Test the performance and reliability of locally assembled electric motorbikes
3. Gauge perfection of electric motorbikes form the perspective of riders and willingness to transition to electric motorbikes
4. Raise awareness of the benefits of “going electric” and reduce concerns associated with adoption hesitation.
The pilot validated the economics of going electric in that riders made 35% more owing to savings on charging and maintenance. Riders who have tried electric motorbikes are highly likely to buy and recommend then but have range anxiety. Therefore, building charging infrastructure is very important for riders who go up to 130km a day. This is a problem that E-Safiri in partnership with EV assemblers is looking to tackle.
Currently, E-Safiri is actively fundraising with the aim of solving range anxiety to increase adoption of two and three wheelers in Kenya in the following ways:
1. Develop 10,000 battery charging and battery swapping points in Kenya suitable for two and three-wheelers by end of 2023 that will increase access to reliable and accessible charging infrastructure.
2. Provide a network of battery swapping points targeting the bottom of the pyramid and leveraging on the available locations provided by small business owners to increase their revenue generation whilst increasing accessibility to the network.
3. Develop asset management software for vehicles and battery tracking that will support EV assemblers and owners.
It can be concluded that electric mobility is the future of mobility in Kenya, and the biggest challenge to adoption is affordable technology and reliable and accessible charging infrastructure. The Kenyan government is in the process of developing informed policies in the electric mobility industry whilst seeking financing for Kenya Power to develop charging infrastructure to further increase adoption. Incentives within importation and duty for electric mobility parts and land rates for setting up charging infrastructure could go a long way in enabling the growth of this emerging market.