Kenya’s boda boda sector: Driving the charge towards an electric vehicle future

In recent times, the world has witnessed a growing commitment to combat climate change by adopting electric vehicles (EVs). With its vibrant boda boda community, Kenya has the opportunity to be at the forefront of championing this electric revolution. With supportive policies and innovative financing solutions, the transition to e-mobility can be accelerated, benefiting the environment and the economy.

The National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) 2018–2022 indicates that in 2015, the transport sector contributed about 13 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With the increasing number of car and motorcycle registrations annually, this figure is projected to keep growing unless efforts are made to adopt cleaner and more sustainable transport practices.

Guided by the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target, Kenya aims to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 32% by 2030. Addressing emissions from road transport in the country can make significant strides towards its goals of reducing emissions. One way of achieving this is by embracing e-mobility.

As of February 2023, Kenya had just over 1,000 registered EVs, according to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). This number is low compared to over 4 million nationwide vehicle registrations.  However, guided by The National Climate Change Action Plan, Kenya is making strides towards increasing adoption rates. The country has also established an annual target of five per cent, where all recently imported vehicles should be electric by 2025.

Regarding financing, the public and private sectors must collaborate to ensure that flexible and affordable models are available across the value chain. Their availability will encourage more people to take up EVs, invest in manufacturers and assemblers, and set up supporting infrastructure such as charging stations.

These models are already coming up in 2023, with companies such as Watu Credit Limited (Watu) spearheading electric asset financing for two and three-wheeler vehicles. So far, the company has financed close to 100 electric assets in Kenya and aims to encourage the adoption of EVs by the motorcycle (bodaboda) community.

Considering that there are over one million registered motorcycles in the country, with the number still growing owing to their efficiency in enabling convenient transportation in both rural and urban settings and their use for commercial purposes, encouraging more riders to take up e-motorcycles will increase the number of electric vehicles in the country, and reduce their overall Carbon Dioxide emissions.

For instance, the Watu model allows customers to finance an electric motorcycle for as little as Ksh 450 daily. The company has partnered with leading e-mobility manufacturers like Ampersand, ARC Ride, Roam, and E-BEBA, offering a wide range of choices to meet customers’ needs.

Partnerships in financing also support e-mobility infrastructure, such as charging stations, since most assemblers provide these options for their motorcycles. By expanding the availability of charging stations, more consumers are encouraged to take up electric vehicles.

With inclusive financing, Kenya’s boda boda riders have a unique opportunity to lead the country toward an electric vehicle future. Implementing the right policies, financing support, and partnerships can accelerate the transition to electric mobility, paving the way for a greener and more sustainable transport sector. Embracing electric vehicles will enable Kenya to make a significant contribution to global efforts in mitigating climate change while driving economic growth and development.

Written by:

Andrii Volokha, General Manager for East Africa, Watu