The global targets set during the 2017 Climate Change Conference in Bonn to contain global warming within certain parameters under the UN Convention are yet to be realized.
The conference in which member’s states under the UN charter agreed to restrict global warming between 1.5 degrees and an absolute maximum of 2 degrees centigrade failed to materialize.
At the current levels of emission of greenhouse gases, Kenya is nowhere near achieving any of these two targets according to recent observations unless thing were done otherwise to achieve desired results.
Energy Principal Secretary Dr. Eng. Joseph Njoroge told the opening session of the first ever E-mobility conference at a Nairobi hotel that the government could not ignore the challenge and was working towards reducing the greenhouse gases through innovative ways.
“The E-Mobility economy has the great potential in changing the current status quo by cutting a large chunk of current day levels of greenhouse gases and meeting the need for transportation through the use of renewable energy” he said .
Essentially, he added that we have to drastically change the way we live in order to reduce emission of harmful gases to the atmosphere.
In Kenya, the PS said there is an abundance of renewable geothermal energy resources and that we have over 10,000MW of unexploited geothermal energy resources in the Kenyan portion of the East African Rift Valley.
“ We are in the process of exploiting this resource and it is a great way to generate green electricity to recharge electric vehicles”, Eng. Njoroge said.
He explained that in the last budget, taxes of all green energy items starting with solar cells and also items used in electric vehicles was significantly reduced , a demonstration and manifestation of governments wish to go green and make use of electric vehicles.
“When we use the green energy items and especially the e -mobility vehicles, motorcycles and even bicycles, we are going to use our own indigenous natural resources, geothermal, wind , solar which is the predominant to charge the batteries being used by the electric vehicles”, Eng. Njoroge said.
The PS emphasized on the need to have every reason to be passionate about going electric so that we use our own natural resources and stop buying fossil fuel which we use a lot foreign exchange in purchasing the fuel.
He explained that the electric motors are better in many ways saying they are environment friendly because they have low carbon footprint with little or no emissions, low noise and low maintenance.
The e-mobile units, he explained can also utilize low cost infrastructure because solar power can be used to recharge them at the point of generation without power transmission and distribution costs .
“Already in Kenya, we are using electric bicycles and motor cycles which are using solar power chargers. The great opportunity here is being able to use renewable energy for transportation”, he said
What this means, the PS explained is that every electric vehicle put on the road reduces our oil import bill with all the attendant benefits in regard to lower foreign exchange, less cost and stress on the fuel distribution infrastructure.
Besides, Eng. Njoroge said every electric vehicle on the road reduces harmful emissions, reduces noise, reduces cost of maintenance and therefore reduces the cost of running the economy, which in turn enhances economic growth and sustainability
David Rubia Air quality and Mobility Unit at the UNEP said the y are supporting developing counties to develop policies and also the missing links to achievement of e mobility is policies.
Here in Kenya, he explained that they have an electric mobility project that is looking at introducing electric vehicles starting with motorcycles
“We have been working with energy and petroleum regulatory authority and they have done the base line setting, collected all data and we have been able to quantify what is needed in terms of additional electricity and also differences of price savings in terms of cost”, he said .
Rubia noted that through partnership with EPRA and working with treasury , they have gotten in place an excise duty reduction halving from 20 percent to 10 percent for electric vehicles , motorcycles and their components as well as solar products.
“ we are trying to model for the government to showing them that reducing taxes for electric vehicles will not necessarily reduce the tax revenues for the country because you can be able to shift those taxes to emitting vehicles”, he said ,
He gave an example of the boda boda sector which is important in the economy in terms of growth and employment for the youth but there is a mentality to wish them away .
“Largely operating taxi business and running off very expensive fuel and expensive financing, we are trying to help them access lower cost financing and be able to use that financing to buy low emissions electric motorcycles and that will put more money in their pockets and be good for the economy which is linked to the development agenda” Rubia said
Anthony Mburu, East Africa Business Development energy manager products at TESLA Energy is a big emitter of CO2 gas of about 27 percent and tackling roughly 50 to 60 percent of the culprits when it comes to pollution.
“Burning fossil fuel to move is actually a very bad idea not only is it distractive on environment but its also relatively inefficient because less than 30 percent of energy content of fuel actually translates to motion in vehicles but when you compare that with close to 90 percent on electric vehicles you can see going the electric vehicle is the smart way move”, he said
Mburu added that the current momentum for electrification of mobility just gives a lot of hope thus for e mobility to be sustainable, innovation has to be supported by the system in terms of social and business models
The meeting was organized by the the Association of Energy Professionals in East Africa (AEPEA) brought together leaders to come up with clear policies and incentives to inspire E mobility initiatives across the region.
According to AEPEA President Eng. Simon Ngure, With Africa cities being the fastest growing in the world it is critical to ensure that the right innovations, legislation and public awareness initiatives are put together hence the key objectives of the conference to ensure that cleaner and sustainable transport adoption is accelerated.
By Wangari Ndirangu