Kenya’s e-mobility strategy and why it will soon be necessary to introduce green road user charges

A highway in Kenya’s coast region.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

By Rashid Mohamed, MBS

Globally, electric mobility has gained prominence as a strategy to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), improve air quality, and decrease dependence on fossil fuels. 

The Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change and Call to Action invites partners to broaden their efforts and call for a decisive joint effort towards sustainable transport electrification, including that at least 20 percent of all road vehicles be electrically powered by 2030.

Transport contributes a significant amount of the current global energy-related GHG emissions, and it is estimated to grow faster than any other energy end-use sector.

Closer home, His Excellency the President, Dr William Ruto, is actively championing this transformative shift, and has been resolute in expediting the integration of sustainable alternatives while transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

The Government has further demonstrated commitment by aligning with global initiatives to address climate change, such as the signing of the COP26 Agreement, and by formulating strategies to effectively reduce GHG emissions.

According to the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (2020), Kenya’s target over the five years to 2025, is to expand the percentage of electric vehicle imports from zero to five percent of the total vehicles imported into the country each year. These efforts notwithstanding, Kenya’s electric mobility sector is still in its nascent stages, with an estimated 671 electric motor vehicles in total.

Stakeholders in the energy sector are actively implementing required infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles.   With this new norm, the fuel levy being the main source of funding for road maintenance, may experience a decline as Kenyans transition towards more energy-efficient vehicles. 

To Kenya Roads Board (KRB), this presents significant challenges and opportunities at the same time. Since the enactment of the Road Maintenance Levy Act in 1993, the country has heavily relied on the funds generated through the fuel levy, for road maintenance. Over the last five years, the Board has successfully raised Ksh405 billion, 99 percent of which were proceeds of fuel levy. This substantial funding has facilitated the maintenance of 206,267km of roads. Looking ahead to the next plan period (2023-2027), the Board has set an even more ambitious target to raise Ksh512 billion towards the maintenance of 220,000km of roads, representing a 26 percent increase from the previous period. This will ensure that our roads receive adequate maintenance to provide optimal levels of service. Top of Form

So, how does KRB ensure sustainability of the road network? In our recently launched five-year strategic plan 2023-2027, we have outlined the alternative funding sources that align with the new future of e-mobility.

KRB will engage in strategic discussions with the government, relevant stakeholders and experts, to devise innovative solutions that will enable us adopt to the changing landscape, ensuring that our roads remain safe, efficient, and well-maintained.

One of the things we are considering is transitioning from fuel levy to smart road user charges that encompass fuel-based as well as hybrid and electric vehicles. This approach would ensure that all road users contribute their fair share towards maintenance and development of our roads. To further bridge the funding gap, the Board will raise Ksh150 billion through infrastructure bond financing. 

Through effective utilisation of these funds, KRB aims to increase the road network in good and fair condition from 70 percent in 2023 to 84 percent by the end of 2027. To achieve this, the Board will expand its oversight capacity and deploy auditors to various regions to ensure a robust monitoring and evaluation of road works implementation by the country’s road agencies, thereby guaranteeing value for money. We shall continue to demand more accountability for every shilling allocated from road user charges, to ensuring that our road infrastructure is optimal.

In conclusion, as we confront the emerging reality of e-mobility, KRB is firmly dedicated to adopting proactive measures to address the potential implications of road maintenance sustainability. We will prioritise development of strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in Government and energy sectors, ensuring that we are ready to embrace the challenges. Additionally, we will continue to explore diverse sources of funding to secure the long-term sustainability of our road infrastructure for the benefit of the people of Kenya.

Here is a quick summary of the KRB Strategic Plan 2023-2027.


The writer is the Director General of Kenya Roads Board