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Published on November 20th, 2020 | by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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InfraCo Africa & EkoRent Africa Partner To Accelerate Access To Electromobility In Kenya

November 20th, 2020 by  


InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), EkoRent Oy and EkoRent Africa (a subsidiary of EkoRent Oy) have signed a shareholders agreement, investing €1 million to enable EkoRent Africa to scale up its pioneering NopeaRide electric mobility initiative in Nairobi.

The initiative will accelerate access to zero-emissions taxi-hailing vehicles for businesses and private customers. This investment will help Nopea increase its fleet from 30 to 100 and also expand its charging infrastructure network across Nairobi. New charging stations will be rolled out in an efficient manner using data collected over the past couple of years from Nopea applications (both drivers and passengers), Nopea vehicles, current charging stations, and by monitoring of traffic flow and popular journey routes. Nopea has 4 hubs equipped with DC fast chargers in Nairobi. These hubs are at the Two Rivers Mall in Ruaka and at the Hub Mall in Karen, Thika Road Mall and Sarit Centre in Westlands.

InfraCo Africa’s CEO, Gilles Vaes, said, “We are excited to be working with our partners at EkoRent to support the expansion of Africa’s first fully electric taxi-hailing service. EkoRent Nopea is InfraCo Africa’s first investment in the electric transportation sector and we look forward to harnessing the potential of electric mobility to change the lives of Africa’s commuters; improving air quality and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.”

EkoRent founder and CEO Juha Suojanen said, “We are thrilled to have signed an investment agreement with InfraCo Africa that not only enables us to increase NopeaRide’s footprint in Kenya, but also means we are partnering with an investor with years of experience and knowhow of the local markets in Africa. Our roots and company values originate from Scandinavia and Finland, but finding investors with knowledge of Africa can be a hard and long process. Now we have done it, and I look forward to growing NopeaRide together with InfraCo Africa.”

As well as cutting direct greenhouse gas emissions, NopeaRide’s electric vehicles and charging systems reduce the running costs and maintenance burden of its fleet when compared with taxis which use combustion engines. For drivers, these cost savings are reflected in 30-50% higher incomes than they could earn driving conventional taxis. The NopeaRide model is highly replicable and it is anticipated that by enabling the company to scale its offering in Nairobi, the project will attract private investment into the electrification of transportation for private and business hire in cities across the region.

Kenya is one of the best places for EVs, since over 90% of its electricity is generated from renewables and it is one of the countries in the region that is in an enviable position of having excess electricity generation capacity. All this energy can be used to charge up EVs. Kenya’s installed generation capacity is sitting at over 2,700 MW, which now exceeds the current peak demand of around 1,900 MW.

This is impressive, and is something that some countries in the southern African region like South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are struggling with at the moment. At night during the off-peak periods, this demand goes down even further, to about 1000 MW. Fleet operators can unlock more value for power utilities when there is this huge drop in demand at night by charging their fleets. Shared mobility platforms enable more people to access electromobility. We certainly hope NopeaRide and its partners continue to grow and help increase the penetration of EVs in this region.

Here is a video of one of Nopea’s Nissan Leafs on a trip in Nairobi:

 
 


 


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About the Author

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.



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