KENYA: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched electric motorcycles in four locations in Kenya in its bid to reduce air pollution, improve national energy and create green jobs.
49 motorcycles were launched for the project.
The pilot is expected to help policymakers assess the barriers in the launch of the technological shift towards electric bikes.
At the launch, the UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Joyce Msuya explained that the reason for the launch of electric bikes was due to the startling statistics of the importation of motorcycles into the country.
“Kenya is importing more motorcycles than cars, doubling its fleet every 7 to 8 years. These are generally inefficient and poorly maintained polluting motorcycles.
“Kenya’s electricity was very green in 2019 with more than 80% was generated by hydro, solar, geothermal, and wind.
Shifting to electric bikes in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere will reduce costs, air pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, as well as create jobs,” Joyce said.
The Governor of Kisumu County, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o said that the electric motorcycles would mitigate against this pollution which is a health hazard.
“The average motorcycle is estimated to be 10 times more polluting per mile than a passenger car, light truck or SUV. Hydrocarbons are dangerous to human health.
“Electric motorcycles will not only mitigate against this health hazard but also help reduce noise pollution that the rampant increase of petroleum-powered motorbikes currently causes in our cities.”
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Kenya and Motorcycles
In Kenya, the number of newly registered motorcycles, commonly used as taxis (boda-boda), on the road of Kenya is estimated at 270 million motorcycles and the number is expected to swell to 400 million by 2050.
Though developing countries have the fastest growing fleets of bikes, most lack vehicle emissions standards or programmes and incentives to promote zero emission vehicles.
Motorcycles are the major form of transportation in many low and middle-income countries, including African ones.
Transportation contributes approximately one-quarter of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and has been estimated to reach one-third by 2050.
The growth is expected to occur in low-income countries and the pollution of motorcycles can be said to account for the same amount of emissions of a passenger car.
According to UNEP, a global shift to electric motorcycles can result in saving 11 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions and about USD 350 billion by 2050.
The Pilot Test
The pilot test was launched in Kenya is based on a study implemented by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, the University of Nairobi, and Sustainable Transport Africa.
The pilot was witnessed by ministries and national and sub-national authorities.
The motorcycles used were donated by Shenzhen Shenling Car Company Limited (TAILG) and is expected to last 6-12 months.
The electric bike project would be replicated in Uganda, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The overarching project, “Integrating Electric 2&3 Wheelers into Existing Urban Transport Modes in Developing and Transitional Countries” is supported by UNEP with funding from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry for the Environment.
Rangers in the Karura Forest are overjoyed over the introduction of the electric motorcycles saying it would make their jobs easier.
The Infrastructure Coordinator from Friends of Karura Forest, John Chege, said the bike would help him move swiftly through the vast forest.
“In my restoration work, the bike will help me move swiftly through the vast forest of over 1000 hectares in a very short period.
” Since it is fast and emits no noise and air pollution like the diesel motor, the bikes allow us to provide better security in the forest and tackle one of Nairobi’s worst environmental problems.”
One of the Rangers, Eli Kosegi said the bikes will give them the ability to patrol and keep the forest close.
“I was a little tense and nervous at first, but then became comfortable. They move swiftly and make much less noise.
“Rangers will now be able to patrol a much wider part of the forest and because the bikes are silent, it is easier to surprise any culprits.”
Karura Forest provides a vital carbon sink for industrial activity in the city of 5 million and serves as an important water catchment area, with the Karura, Gitathuru and Ruaka rivers supporting groves of native bamboo and small wetlands.