A BasiGo full electric passenger bus. FILE PHOTO | POOL
Electric vehicles (EV) technology is a global development that Kenya cannot escape.
The sooner we prepare a national roadmap for EV entry, the smoother the transition from petrol/diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
Major global ICE manufacturers have firm plans to stop making new ICE vehicles within the next 12 years, either because of national regulatory requirements, or out of competitive pressure in a fast-growing global EV market.
EVs are fast entering mass production, which will gradually drive costs to affordable levels.
For Kenya, two major policy justifications for EVs are carbon emission and pollution reduction, and positive economic impact on balance of payments with reduced dollar imports of petroleum products.
EVs will be powered by indigenous-sourced electricity, preferably renewable.
EVs will be a major driver of electricity demand, which Kenya must incorporate in revised energy supply and demand projections — an exercise that is long overdue.
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Electric buses, taxis, motor bikes, and tuk-tuks have already made humble entries into the Kenyan market but this will remain limited in the absence of EV policies and strategies, especially in public transport.
Rapid public transportation in the cities is a major EV opportunity that can be accomplished through PPP capital.
Delivery vans within cities are another quick-win opportunity.
In all these areas there is likely to be no fiscal subsidisation by government as savings from petrol/diesel fuels are likely to demonstrate positive economics.
Directionally, transport electrification will reduce future capital investments for petroleum supply chain infrastructure, especially in pipelines, storage, distribution, and service stations with capacity requirements shifting to supply of electricity and vehicle charging facilities.
Service station investors will need to modify their outlets to accommodate EVs, which will also compete with other charging locations like car parks, homes, and highway nyama choma sites.
Local vehicle assemblers will similarly need to plan for shifting plant capacity needs, while second-hand vehicle dealers will have to wait for used EVs to become available in original markets.
Vehicle service providers will need to acquire new EV skills.
Going forward, the ministries of Energy , Environment and Transportation will need to issue a joint policy and strategy statement to support smooth entry of EVs.
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Electrification of the standard guage railway (SGR) is another major opportunity that can be similarly justified on climate change, and forex savings on imported diesel fuels.
In a nutshell, green funding for EV market entry will be boosted if Kenya has clear plans for e-mobility.