Stima One electric bike. Photo courtesy of Stima.

Electric Buses & Boda Bodas — African EV Roundup

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Afrik 21 is a rich source of news about African EV uptake and the progress of renewable energy in the many countries of Africa. Writer Benoit-Ivan Wansi has filed the articles below. I have also contacted some of the companies below for photos and additional comments. I encourage you to subscribe to the Afrik 21 email list if you are seeking news from the lush continent. Here is a taste (you might have to get a map out):

Kenya — Electric Motorbikes (boda bodas)

The electric mobility market is obviously booking in Kenya, with yet another story emanating from this African nation. “The French-Kenyan technology start-up Stima has signed a partnership with the financial company Mogo and the Estonian mobility company Bolt to develop new solutions for electric motorbikes in the capital Nairobi.” Stima specialises in battery swapping technology for its “one electric” bikes. Mogo will finance drivers to purchase their own bikes through weekly installments. Bolt operates an electronic delivery platform called “Bolt Food” which enables payment for delivery of goods and services.

African EVs
Stima One electric bike. Photo courtesy of Stima.

“According to Stima, the initiative will ‘support the transition to green mobility for sustainable cities’ and avoid 90% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Kenya compared to thermal vehicles.”

African EVs
Stima launch. Photo courtesy of Stima.

“After working in several African markets for over a year, testing the products with Stima in Nairobi, assessing local conditions and riding habits, we were able to produce a motorbike that can meet regional demand with a metal body, the high-powered motor and long-life batteries,” said Gaurav Uppal, CEO of One Electric which is working with Stima to deploy 3000 motorbikes in Kenya.

Kenya, South Africa, Togo, & Tunisia

In Kenya, US venture capital firm Untapped Global is launching a $20 million financing facility to help combat the energy crisis and avoid 240 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 by funding electric mobility.

“Climate Action Initiative. This is the name of the new platform created by the US-based investment company Untapped Global for the development of electric mobility in Africa. Active in Africa through its offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Cape Town, South Africa, the Californian company has invested 20 million dollars in this financing facility, which will enable it to ‘increase the rental and distribution of electric vehicles through innovation and asset financing’ in these African countries.”

Untapped Global plans to aid the deployment of 10,000 environmentally friendly vehicles in cities experiencing high population growth and attendant air pollution. “The Climate Action Initiative will be progressively fed by other partners, notably from the energy and finance sectors.”

“The Consortium managed by Untapped Global will incorporate three key components, including an established network of vehicle leasing companies with a proven ability to cost-effectively deploy and manage thousands of vehicles in many regions. The other component will be financing to turn the upfront capital costs of electric vehicles into affordable ongoing payments that make the cost of electric vehicles lower than that of gasoline-powered vehicles,” says the company led by Jim Chu.

US consultancy McKinsey points out that sustainable mobility in Africa will reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the continent by up to 10%, particularly in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa, which account for “about 70% of annual vehicle sales in sub-Saharan Africa and 45% of the region’s population.”

In the past two years, the Togo and Tunisia governments have introduced tax exemptions for the import of electric vehicles.

Kenya and Beyond — “Shujaa” electric bicycles

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of the Swiss Confederation is lending 500,000 Swiss francs (498,000 euros) to eWaka to roll out its “Shujaa” electric bicycles in several African countries.

eWaka entered the EV market in 2022. It initially specialised in technology solutions, tracking vehicles in Nairobi in real time. “We hope that eWaka will be a successful example for efficient and climate-friendly mobility systems in African cities,” says the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

African EVs
eWaka bike photo courtesy of eWaka

eWaka assembles its electric bikes, known as “Shujaa,” in Nairobi. They are used by delivery companies and healthcare providers, as well as hotels and schools, notably in Cairo, Egypt; Rabat, Morocco; and Nairobi, Kenya.

“Our bike is equipped with a front and rear rack that can carry loads of 65 kilograms. It is equipped with smart mobility software and two batteries for a total range of 120 kilometres. For 2023, eWaka will therefore continue its strategic partnerships to offer flexible rental options, subscription and purchase plans to meet daily commuting, personal well-being, and net-zero goals,” says the company led by Céleste Vogel.

eWaka also intends to use the Swiss funds to provide off-grid solar systems for recharging the bikes. This further reduces air pollution.

Electric Buses for Kenya

BasiGo has accepted the challenge of Africa’s mobility needs and desire for clean transport. According to its website, “Africa will have 10 cities with a population over 10 million people by 2025. This growing population requires a growing mobility network to serve it.”

Recent funding from a consortium of investors has raised $6.6 million that BasiGo will use to import and deliver K6 electric buses from BYD (Building Your Dreams). In time, these will replace the polluting diesel buses in Africa’s teeming cities. The funding will also be used to expand the East African fast charging network and the assembly of electric buses.

The K6 is a 25-seat, 100% electric bus with 250 km of range and a recharge time of less than 4 hours. The K6 promises: freedom from diesel, improved reliability, premium passenger experience, and comprehensive monitoring; all at an affordable total cost. East Africa has an abundance of clean, affordable electricity. Kenya produces most of its power from hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.

“Replacing a diesel bus in East Africa with an electric bus would have greater impact than almost anywhere else in the world. An electric bus in East Africa would also cost owners less to operate. We have an opportunity to make East Africa a global leader in clean, affordable electric bus transit. electric bus transit,” BasiGo says.

“We are honoured to join this group of investors to stop the climate crisis and build a more sustainable future through finance and innovation. With over 90% of Kenya’s electricity coming from renewable energy, BasiGo’s electric buses will transform public transport in East Africa and significantly reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on the roads,” says Jit Bhattacharya, BasiGo’s CEO.

Benoit-Ivan also mentions Ampersand, whose electric motorbikes are already on the road in Nairobi and Kigali, Rwanda. There is also Zembo, based in Kampala, Uganda. Zembo is moving forward with the assembly of its electric motorbikes using solar home systems, with an eye on the regional electric vehicle market.

It is encouraging to read of all of the activity in various African countries aimed at reducing the progress of global warming. I would encourage my readers to follow Afrik 21 and to take a broader view of the climate crisis. We in the West cannot solve the problem alone.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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