Electric mobility; Kenya playing catch up, but there is hope

That fossil-fuel mobility still reigns globally, is no longer news.

Yet, besides being a primary source of pollution, fossil-fuel automobiles used in the public transport sector are still popular. And just like Kenya, other East African nations are also home to millions more. 

However, unsustainable practices in the transport industry remains a key contributor to air pollution globally. Cities are becoming more and more uninhabitable due to an increase in air pollution. 

A 2016 report on the costs of air pollution in Africa, by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), estimated that premature deaths from outdoor air pollution cost African nations $215 billion in 2013.

In Kenya for example, available data shows that 18,000 premature deaths occur annually as a result of respiratory diseases caused by air pollution.

Read also: A Kenyan has died of Influenza, here’s what you need to know about the virus

The menace of outdoor air pollution in African cities is compounded by the increased imports of old vehicles, known to be heavy air polluters, experts say. Environmentalists are rooting for restrictions on vehicle imports over 15 years old.

But even as the country grapples with the enforcement of such stringent import measures, experts are looking elsewhere; adopting cleaner mobility.

The experts feel the need to invest in sustainable ways of cutting air pollution such as cycling, walking. Amid all these gloom, there is good news to report; Kenya has reduced the consumption of fuel that contains high levels of  Sulphur by tightening diesel import laws, separate lanes along highways among others.

The electric vehicle market is expected to be worth at least Sh500 billion by 2030, swinging open a golden investment window for businesses, says World Bank estimates. It will be a huge market, but investors should be cautious.

Clearly, the country is inching closer to clean mobility, it can only get better. There is a need to create awareness on the impact of clean mobility to scale uptake-they add.

Take the case of electric cars. The mode of transport is slowly gaining currency in the sector. In Gigiri, at the United Nations Environment Programme, the head of mobility Rob De Jong-who uses an electric vehicle captures it all.

Several kilometers in major conservancies in the vast Laikipia County, electric mobility is the in-thing. “We are starting to see a major shift to electric mobility among wildlife conservancy players. The report we get is that clients are comfortable using electric vehicles,” said Mr Filip, CEO and founder Opibus, an electric vehicle assembly company based in Kenya.

“Electric vehicles has no impact on sound that affects animals’ movement, “he added.

Meanwhile switching fully to electric mobility is still a tall order. To deploy electric vehicles there is a need for conducive policy regulations, subsidies that will make it cheaper for Kenyans to easily afford the e-vehicles. In European countries, for example, governments have realized the importance of e-mobility and are heavily supporting subsidies and regulatory initiatives.

Power infrastructure is also vital if e-mobility is to realize its full potential, which will ultimately contribute to the country’s economic prosperity. 

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