January 31, 2023

Raven Tribune

Complete News World

Battery replacement galvanizes electric motorcycle driving in Kenya

  • Electric motorcycle startups are making a splash in Kenya
  • Say that battery replacement saves drivers time and money
  • Planning to expand the model to Tanzania, Uganda

NAIROBI (Reuters) – In recent months, clusters of brightly branded, powerful battery swap stations have popped up around Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, allowing riders of electric scooters to swap out their low battery for a fully charged one.

It’s a sign that the electric motorcycle revolution is just beginning to unfold in Kenya where combustion engine motorcycles are a cheaper and faster way to get around than cars, but environmental experts say they are 10 times more polluting.

East Africa’s largest economy is betting on electric motorcycles, a heavy-duty power supply from renewables, and its status as a technology and startup hub to lead the region’s shift to zero-emissions electric mobility.

Not only does the battery swap system save time – essential for more than a million motorcyclists in Kenya, most of whom use bicycles commercially – but it also saves buyers money as many sellers follow a model in which they retain ownership of the battery, which is the most expensive bike. bit.

“It’s not economically and commercially viable for them to have a battery…that would almost double the cost of the bike,” said Steve Juma, co-founder of electric bike company Ecobodaa.

Ecobodaa has 50 experimental electric scooters on the road now and plans to have 1,000 by the end of 2023 that sell for about $1,500 each—about the same price as combustion-engine bikes thanks to excluding the battery from the cost.

After the initial purchase, an electric motorcycle—designed to be powerful enough to traverse rocky roads—is cheaper to run than a fuel-guzzling one.

“With a normal bike, I would use about Ksh700-800 worth of fuel ($5.70-$6.51) every day, but with this bike, when I swap the battery, I get one battery at Sh300,” said Kevin Macharia, 28. Which transports goods and passengers around Nairobi.

Expansion plans

Ecobodaa is just one of several Nairobi-based electric scooter startups working to establish itself in Kenya before eventually expanding into East Africa.

Joe Hurst Croft, founder of ARC Ride, another Nairobi-based electric motorcycle startup, said Kenya’s consistent power supply which is roughly 95% renewable led by hydropower and has an extensive network, has been a huge boost to the growth of the sector.

The country’s energy establishment estimates that it generates enough to charge two million electric motorcycles a day: access to electricity in the country is over 75%, according to the World Bank, and even higher in Nairobi.

Hurst-Croft said Uganda and Tanzania also have strong, heavy renewable energy networks that can support electric mobility.

“We are putting in over 200 commuting stations in Nairobi and expanding into Dar es Salaam and Kampala,” said Hearst Croft.

($1 = 122.9000 Kenyan shillings)

(Report by Einat Morsi). Editing by Emilia Sithole Matares

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