Features
20 Sep 22

E-motorcycles booming in Kenya

E-mobility is booming in Kenya, seriously boosting its economy and drastically reducing its carbon footprint. But unlike in more mature markets, the electrification trend is focused mainly on two-wheelers.

Last year, Roam became the first startup in Kenya to convert petrol-powered motorcycles into e-motorbikes. In August this year, the company launched M-Kopa, a clean energy financier aiming to help thousands of Kenyans afford an e-motorbike of their own.

Pay-as-you-go

By using the pay-as-you-go principle, Roam will allow drivers (who often use the bikes professionally) to cut down on operational cost, and potentially double their daily income. 

Roam is just one of many e-motorcycle startups in Kenya, writes Quartz. Cheaper than cars, motorbikes are a popular mode of transport in the country, and throughout much of urbanised Africa. Kenya’s motorbike market is over 1.5 million riders strong and growing. A recent survey shows the motorbike sector contributes around 3.5% to Kenya’s GDP.

Testing ground

As such – and also because it’s cheaper to set up shop in Kenya than it is in more expensive countries in North America or Western Europe – the country is turning into a veritable testing ground for mobility innovation. 

And not just, as with Roam’s M-Kopa initiative, in terms of vehicle financing. Stima, another e-motorcycle startup, is collaborating with Indian manufacturer OneElectric to market 3,000 battery-swapping e-motorbikes (which eliminates many charging problems). 

Positive effects

Meanwhile, the boom on e-motorbiking is having positive effects, both economically and ecologically. Compared to a petrol-powered one, a battery-powered motorcycle cuts out 10 tons of CO2. And despite the higher initial cost, in total they are 30% cheaper.

Kenya’s booming e-motorcycle business has its work cut out. It’s estimated that to convert all petrol motorcycles in Kenya to electric, $2 billion is needed. The Kenyan government, meanwhile, has a clear, modest, and relatively short-term goal for electrifying all vehicles (including cars): 5% by 2025. 

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs