Kenya’s motorcycle industry is booming, buoyed by the ever growing motorcycle taxi (Boda Boda) industry. There are over 2 million motorcycles registered in Kenya. Estimates put the total number of registered motorcycles in the wider East African region at well over 5 million motorcycles and these are essentially all internal combustion engine motorcycles.
Sales of motorcycles in Kenya in 2021 were up 15.6%. This follows an impressive 17.4% in the lockdown-affected 2020, according to the latest Economic Survey from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). Motorcycle registrations jumped from 246,705 units in 2020 to 285,203 units in 2021. The number of motorcycles registered in 2021 was more than 1.5 times the number of motorcycles registered in 2018! The impressive growth over the past 6 years as shown in the table below:
Motorcycle Registrations in Kenya over the last 5 Years
Source: KNBS 2022 Economic Survey
This growth has attracted a lot of attention from several firms which want to transition this industry to electric. Several other factors, such as Kenya’s impressive renewable energy generation, are also playing a key role in attracting investment in the electric motorcycle industry in Kenya. Renewables dominate the country’s energy generation mix, resulting in a very clean grid with over 90% of electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as hydro, geothermal, wind, and some utility-scale solar. During the late night/off-peak period, demand drops from a peak of just over 2,000 MW to just a little over 1,000 MW. This leaves a lot of room for the utility to sell more kWhs to EVs that would be parked most of the night, as well as charging of electric vehicle batteries for swap stations overnight. With the transport sector contributing close to 40% of CO2 emissions in Kenya, accelerating the transition to electric mobility has become even more critical.
The high operation and maintenance costs for ICE motorcycles, the thin margins in the motorcycle industry, and the large addressable market have also led to the sector being given prominence as one of the sectors targeted for quick wins and low hanging fruit for electrification. The fast paced nature of motorcycle taxi operations with multiple trips adding up to over 100 km per day means that a battery swapping network which cuts out the 4- to 6-hour long charging wait times will be critical in catalyzing the adoption of electric motorcycles.
One of the leaders in East Africa, Ampersand, has partnered with TotalEnergies Kenya to launched an electric motorcycle battery swapping & charging station at TotalEnergies Hurlingham in Nairobi. This initiative is in line with TotalEnergies’ climate ambition of net zero emissions by 2050. The new swapping and charging station at Hurlingham brings the total number of battery swapping & charging stations to three after TotalEnergies Dagoretti & Mountain View. TotalEnergies Kenya says that “the charging station will provide clean, affordable, & reliable energy for boda boda customers. We are proud of the new solution & continue to seek innovative & renewable energy solutions for customers.”
“By leveraging TotalEnergies’ incredible depth of experience to expand our battery swap station network, we can grow far quicker than we previously thought possible.” Says Ampersand CEO, Josh Whale on the new partnership.
Firms such as TotalEnergies Kenya that have an existing large retail network are the perfect partners for hosting electric motorcycle battery swapping & charging stations. Their extensive network around the country and on the continent means that these collaborations could be replicated and scaled across the country and the rest of the continent, enabling the electric motorcycle industry to grow its market share in the near future by giving riders assurances that they would be able to find a battery swapping station nearby. Motorcycle riders in Kenya are already accustomed to a similar swapping/ exchange model as they play a huge role in the exchange and deliveries of LPG (cooking gas cylinders). Exciting times ahead for the boda boda industry.
All images courtesy of Ampersand