Why East Africa is ready for the e-mobility shift

Electric bus

A police officer gestures as a public service electric bus is driven past her at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on November 1, 2023.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ethiopia is phasing out petroleum-fuelled motorcycles for electric ones.
  • Last month, Kenya launched a draft national electric mobility policy.

Included in the Ugandan Finance ministry’s tax proposals this week was tax exemption on locally manufactured electric vehicles (EVs) and charging equipment.

Ethiopia is phasing out petroleum-fuelled motorcycles for electric ones; no new licences will be issued for petroleum-powered motorcycles with the existing ones electrified. 

Last month, neighbouring Kenya launched a draft national electric mobility policy to create a pathway to sustainable, efficient and equitable electric mobility (e-mobility)-powered transportation.

In recent years, the global automotive industry has witnessed a paradigm shift towards EVs as a cleaner and more sustainable mode of transportation.

Renewable energy resources

While their adoption has been prominent in several developed regions, the question arises: Is East Africa ready for EVs? A resounding ‘Yes’. Why?

Abundant renewable energy resources: The solar, wind and hydroelectric power resources provide a conducive environment for EVs for their clean and sustainable source of energy for charging batteries.

Growing infrastructure for e-mobility: The public and private sectors are increasingly investing in the development of the infrastructure. This includes establishment of EV charging stations in urban centres and along major highways and implementation of supportive policies and incentives.

Rising environmental awareness: More aware of the environmental challenges posed by traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles, consumers are becoming more conscious of the need to transition to cleaner transportation options to mitigate environmental degradation and climate change.

Cost-effectiveness of EVs: While the initial purchase price of EVs may be higher than that of conventional vehicles, the long-term operating costs are significantly lower. That makes them a more cost-effective option for consumers, particularly in regions with volatile fuel prices like East Africa.
Policies and incentives

Greener sustainable future

Government support and incentives: Governments in the region are increasingly implementing policies and incentives to support adoption of EVs. This includes tax breaks, subsidies and import duty exemptions for EVs and related components. 

Technological advancements: The rapid advancement of EV technology has resulted in the development of more efficient batteries with longer ranges and faster charging times. That addresses some of the key concerns regarding EVs, such as range anxiety, making them more practical for everyday use.

Private sector initiatives: Automotive manufacturers, energy companies, transportation service providers and others are increasingly embracing e-mobility as a viable business opportunity. This has led to the introduction of EV models tailored to the specific needs and preferences of East African consumers, as well as innovative business models for EV charging and mobility services.

East Africa has all the ingredients for a successful shift to e-mobility, joining other African countries like Ghana, Mauritius, Tunisia and South Africa on the path to a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future for transportation.

Ms Nalumansi is Bloomberg Road Safety Project coordinator, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). [email protected]