When I wrote in this newspaper about electric vehicles (EVs) in 2017, many seemed perplexed by the new technology and its impacts on petroleum and vehicle markets.
Six years later, EVs (buses, cars, motorbikes) have appeared on our roads, with President William Ruto visibly leading their introduction from the front.
When senior political leadership is involved, enabling fiscal and regulatory frameworks to drive EV investments is bound to follow.
EVs achieve green credentials only when the incremental electricity they use is from renewable non-carbon or low-carbon sources, a milestone that Kenya has achieved over 90 percent of power generation coming from geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar sources.
The next big leap in electricity demand in Kenya will be from transport electrification, a shift that will simultaneously reduce petroleum demands.
The energy authorities should, therefore plan early for increased investments in renewable power supply to accommodate transition to EVs, for I foresee a critical mass of EVs in Kenya being achieved by 2030.
Globally, electric mobility is the one area of energy transition that is delivering quick green wins, with a focus on enhanced battery and charging technologies to deliver lower unit costs and mass uptake of vehicles.
Nearly all major global vehicle brands are competing for EV market shares on the basis of price, technical features, and user convenience.
Countries in Europe have already published deadlines for stopping the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles.
For Kenya, transport electrification replaces imported energy (petroleum ) with indigenous renewable sources, a major import substitution programme whose economic significance is to support the balance of payments and our struggling shilling.
Further, local energy costs shall be shielded from global oil commodity volatility. From a policy viewpoint, transport electrification should be seen as a critical economic planning input with quick payback in forex savings.
The next bold target action by Kenya is to electrify SGR – a design concept feature that was dropped by the Jubilee government.
The areas of transport electrification needing investor and government focus are city public transport systems (buses, urban trains, and taxis) to be followed by long-distance buses.
The electric motorbike programme is already launched and is ready for expanded uptake. Light commercial delivery vans are another ripe opportunity.
Yes, there are exciting complementary investment opportunities in both electric transportation and renewable energy, both with resultant economic and green scores.