By Samuel Ouma
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Tuesday launched a pilot electric motorcycles project in Kenya.
The project aiming to reduce air pollution, improve national energy security and create green jobs was launched at Karura Forest in Kenya’s capital.
The pilot will help policymakers develop the right policy framework to see a sustainable shift to low emissions electric mobility in Kenya.
During the launch, UNEP’s Head of Sustainable Mobility, Rob de Jong, reiterated that they had partnered with Kenya Power, Kisumu County, Friends of Karura, and Power Hive to ensure the project is successful.
On her part, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya said Kenya is importing more motorcycles than cars, doubling its fleet every 7-8 years, noting they are generally inefficient and poorly maintained polluting motorcycles.
“Kenya’s electricity is very green, in 2019 more than 80% was generated by hydro, solar, geothermal, and wind. Shifting to electric bikes in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere will reduce costs, air pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, as well as create jobs,” said Joyce Msuya.
The project kicked off with 49 e-books and is expected to expand in the future. The motorcycles were donated by TAILG, a Chinese company that signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UN Environment to support the latter’s electric mobility work.
Compared to others, e-bikes have a low operating cost, lack a clutch, and have a speed limit of 45km/h.
According to the UN organization, motorbikes’ demand is rising, with stakeholders expecting approximately half a billion motorcycles.
It also added that motorcycles are the largest source of self-employment for urban youth, saying shifting towards electric mobility instead of fuel-based mobility will help the youth maximize their daily earnings.
There were 1.5 million registered motorcycles in Kenya in 2018, and by 2030 the number is expected to hit over 5 million.