Why Electric Mobility Should Top President Ruto’s Economic Agenda

It is time elec­tric mobil­i­ty became the norm in Kenya. This will unlock thou­sands of new decent jobs, man­age our unsus­tain­able cost of fuel and con­tribute immense­ly to bet­ter health. Thank­ful­ly these three are at the heart of Kenya Kwanza’s man­i­festo. In this regard, I sug­gest that elec­tric mobil­i­ty be pri­or­i­tized by the Ruto administration.

In order to fur­ther appre­ci­ate why elec­tric mobil­i­ty is the way to go, let us take a quick trip to Norway.

Imag­ine pay­ing park­ing fees that are 50 per­cent less than nor­mal park­ing fees. Imag­ine also dri­ving for free on the Nairo­bi express­way. This is what hap­pens in Nor­way for elec­tric vehi­cle motorists. They pay less park­ing and zero toll charges, amongst oth­er tax exemp­tions. It’s no won­der Nor­way has the high­est num­ber of elec­tric vehi­cles in the world per capi­ta. Indeed, in 2020, elec­tric cars in this Scan­di­na­vian coun­try con­sti­tut­ed almost 75 per­cent of all new car sales. The own­ers of these vehi­cles spend no mon­ey on fuel!

This vin­di­cates the pow­er of poli­cies to boost elec­tric vehi­cle sales. That’s why Kenya need to act speed­i­ly to enact and imple­ment numer­ous piv­otal elec­tric car-friend­ly poli­cies. For starters, there should be zero rat­ing or exemp­tion of import and excise duties not just on elec­tric vehi­cles but also on their spare parts, bat­ter­ies and charg­ing sta­tion equip­ment. Inci­den­tal­ly, Rwan­da adopt­ed this pol­i­cy mea­sure in 2021.

Kenya shouldn’t just focus on increased elec­tric vehi­cle sales only but also local pro­duc­tion of the same. Just as mobile phones leapfrogged land­lines and made it pos­si­ble for most Kenyans to own phones, local pro­duc­tion of elec­tric vehi­cles can dras­ti­cal­ly increase vehi­cle own­er­ship in the coun­try. For this to hap­pen though, the Gov­ern­ment must incen­tivize elec­tric mobil­i­ty investments.

A prac­ti­cal incen­tive entails reduc­tion of cor­po­rate tax from 30% to 20% for the first five years for investors oper­at­ing elec­tric vehi­cles assem­bly plants and charg­ing sta­tions. This would accel­er­ate local pro­duc­tion by com­pa­nies like Autopax Lim­it­ed. India took sim­i­lar action in 2017, lead­ing to increased local pro­duc­tion of elec­tric vehicles.

For local elec­tric mobil­i­ty to thrive, there is need for a cor­re­spond­ing local pro­duc­tion of advanced bat­ter­ies. That would sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce elec­tric vehi­cles’ cost. As such, the Gov­ern­ment must incen­tivize bil­lion-shilling invest­ments into this sec­tor. In Feb­ru­ary this year, US Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion announced plans of invest­ing Shs360 Bil­lion to strength­en U.S. Sup­ply Chain for Advanced Bat­ter­ies for Vehi­cles and Ener­gy Storage.

With the right incen­tives, Kenya can attract mul­ti-bil­lion-shilling invest­ments into local pro­duc­tion of advanced batteries.

Even more rel­e­vant for Kenya and oth­er African coun­tries, elec­tric motor­bikes and motor­cy­cles are now becom­ing acces­si­ble for ordi­nary con­sumers. Con­sid­er­ing that Boda Boda busi­ness is one of Kenya’s main­stays, there is a mas­sive mar­ket for ebikes. Their main attrac­tion is their afford­abil­i­ty to main­tain which is why exist­ing local mak­ers must be ful­ly supported.

Against this back­drop, Hon­da which is the world’s largest motor­cy­cle man­u­fac­tur­er, plans to intro­duce 10 or more elec­tric motor­cy­cle mod­els glob­al­ly by 2025. Fur­ther to this, it aims to increase annu­al sales of elec­tric mod­els to 1 mil­lion units with­in the next five years. This speaks to the broad mar­ket oppor­tu­ni­ties of elec­tric mobil­i­ty. Just as is the case with elec­tric cars, gen­er­ous tax incen­tives will go a long way in enabling and expand­ing local pro­duc­tion of elec­tric motorcycles.

Apart from eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits, elec­tric mobil­i­ty will tack­le the neg­a­tive effects of Cli­mate Change. This will tack­le pol­lu­tion-relat­ed dis­eases. In 2021, research at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty fur­ther con­firmed that replac­ing petrol-pow­ered vehi­cles with elec­tric vehi­cles in cities could sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce air pollution–related death and illness.

Indeed, elec­tric mobil­i­ty can reduce our high cost of liv­ing as we also cre­ate jobs, save lives and boost our econ­o­my. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

What Ruto must do to plant and grow seeds of prosperity among all Kenyans

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