Decarbonising mobility: Local players engage top gear

Mr Moses Nderitu (right) the Chief Revenue Officer of BasiGo, showcases some of the features of the new modern electric buses assembled at the Associated Vehicle Assemblers plant in Miritini, Mombasa, in January. Kenya is slowly embracing electronic mobility.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | NATION

What you need to know:

  • Ratemo Mabeya, 26, founded the Green Global Footprint Initiative immediately after he graduated from Kibabii University
  • His mission particularly was to sensitise local communities and the next generation of electric vehicle

When Ratemo Mabeya, 26, founded the Green Global Footprint Initiative two years ago, his intention was to get rid of societal misconceptions about transitioning into green energy.

His mission particularly was to sensitise local communities and the next generation of electric vehicle drivers and owners, while confronting the hurdles that come with embracing sustainable carbon-free electric mobility.

“My area of concern was looking for long-term climate change action sustainability and e-mobility, focusing around addressing all these barriers to electric vehicle adoption, especially when it comes to e-mobility challenges like charging infrastructure or lack of it,” he says.

Mr Mabeya started the initiative in December 2020, immediately after he graduated from Kibabii University with a degree in biology. 

“I moved from my village in Nyamira County to Nairobi, and it took me two years to study and research the problem in the transport sector,” he said.

In February, they organised a civic awareness and climate education campaign with the hopes of shifting the mindset about decarbonising the transport sector in the country.

The event was attended by more than 500 people and featured some familiar names in the electric mobility manufacturing space in the country. 

“Here, they had a chance to showcase their products and give test drives in an effort to decompress anxiety associated with these motor vehicles,” he said.

The Green Global Footprint Initiative has received invites to take awareness campaigns to as far as Ghana and Liberia, and perhaps one might reckon that the initiative is playing a major role as the country strives to make strides in transiting into e-mobility. 

But even with this, it is definitely going to require more efforts if Kenya is to achieve this dream.
For instance, despite more than 80 percent of Kenya’s electricity generation comes from low-carbon sources like geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar power, the country is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, with the transport sector highly affected.

In Kenya, the total number of electric vehicles (EVs) is estimated to be less than 1000, with the sector heavily dominated by two-wheelers. This is a significantly small number compared to the rest of the world.
Mr Albiem Wilson of the Roam company which specialises in electric conversion kits for fleet vehicles such as light trucks, public transport and buses, as well as electric motorcycles for the Kenyan market, said it is expensive to transition. 

“Building up a manufacturing industry for electric vehicles for a developing country like Kenya, is quite expensive,” he said.

But even with this, Kenya is considered to be on the right track. It is among few countries in Africa which have shown great e-mobility transition commitment.

It is against this backdrop that at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, President William Ruto called upon Germany, as a global e-vehicle manufacturing hub, to take advantage of the steady increase in electric cars sales in the country.

But even as a developing country like Kenya strives to achieve full transition into e-mobility, even in the developing world, this sector is confronted by numerous hurdles such as high prices, missing e-infrastructure, as well as low trust in e-mobility.

In the meantime, Albiem insists that Kenya is ready to achieve full transition. 

But this, he says, will highly depend on the government’s intervention. 

“There have to be policies, for instance, to tax high-emission vehicles, while at same time incentivising or reducing tax imports for low carbon vehicles,” he said.

Already, the government has shown commitment on its intervention to foster and boost the e-mobility industry. 

For instance, there have been ambitious plans to convert 2,000 gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles to electric.