Kenya Power to pilot electric car charging stations in Nairobi, Nakuru

electric car

An electric car at a charging station.

Photo credit: Pool

Kenya Power will next month begin a six-month trial on electric car charging stations in Nairobi and Nakuru as it sets its eyes on new revenue streams from e-mobility.

The company is seeking to grow electricity sales to leverage the growing e-mobility industry that has seen increased demand for electric vehicles amid high global fuel prices.

Car owners have been looking at alternatives to lower their transport costs, including switching to electric vehicles and converting their vehicles to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Kenya Power is now planning to pilot an e-mobility network infrastructure system (Enis) in Nairobi and Nakuru for six months to check its feasibility.

Full implementation of the project will see the company build home, business, and public charging infrastructure across the country to make it easier for EV owners to charge their vehicles.

“The proof of concept phase will be used by Kenya Power to develop and pilot the proposed e-mobility system in a scaled manner within Nairobi and Nakuru,” said the company which is seeking electric vehicle firms to undertake the trial.

The company said the trial will help it collect key data on the potential of the EV charging business before it commits to rolling it out on a full scale.

“The phase will give Kenya Power a hands-on experience to evaluate the potential and complexity of e-mobility ecosystem before a full-scale implementation,” it said.

The Ministry of Energy projects new vehicle registrations in the country to grow at a rate of four per cent across all categories annually, with motorcycles and passenger cars accounting for more than 80 percent of all new registrations.

The electric vehicle market in Kenya is, however, nascent and remains small.

Data from the ministry shows there were only 350 electrical vehicles in the country in 2018 although the number has grown since as new EV assembly firms continue to set up shop in Kenya.

The government aims to increase the number of EVs in the country to 53,800 by 2040 if 29 per cent of new vehicle registrations are EVs.

The EV business is part of Kenya Power’s strategies to increase revenue after already diversifying into the home and business internet market.

Kenya Power said in March it can supply the electricity needed to charge electric vehicles and motorcycles during off-peak hours.

The company said it can supply electricity to charge 50,000 buses and two million motorcycles during off-peak hours. This is based on its estimates that an electric minibus operating within Nairobi covers approximately 200km daily and consumes an average of 120 kilowatt-hours (kWh) at Sh2,400.

The company said it has created a liaison office that will act as a one-stop shop to champion its e-mobility business.

Through the office, Kenya Power will work with other stakeholders to support the development of the e-mobility eco-system, which will include the identification of sites for potential charging stations, as well as requisite geo-mapping software to enable users to locate the nearest charging station.

Several private firms and State ones, such as the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), have also stepped up preparations for a shift to e-mobility. KenGen has, for example, already installed an electric vehicle charging station in Nairobi and revealed that it will ship in electric cars to test the station and help with data that is key to boosting policy legislation for e-mobility.