Nairobi Commuters to Enjoy Electric Motorbike Rides [VIDEO]

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    An official poses for a photo with UNEP's e-bikes launched in Nairobi on Tuesday, March 2, 2021
  • The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched the pilot electric bike project on Tuesday, March 1 in Nairobi and Kisumu Counties.

    UNEP's Head of Sustainable Mobility, Rob de Jong, said that it had partnered with Kenya Power, Kisumu County, Friends of Karura and Power Hive to ensure the project is successful. 

    The motorcycles were donated by TAILG, a Chinese company that signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UN Environment to support the latter's electric mobility work.

    Riders pose with UNEP's e-bikes unveiled at Nairobi on Tuesday, March 2, 2021

    "The project has started with 49 e-bikes and is expected to expand in an effort to reduce air pollution, improve national energy security & create green jobs," de Jong said at the event held at Karura Forest along Kiambu Road. 

    On January 19, de Jong announced that UNEP had shipped in 99 electric motorbikes, which were to be distributed across East Africa as the organisation kicked off the first-ever public-private sector electric mobility pilot projects in the region, ushering in East Africa’s EV revolution. 

    UNEP's Sustainable Mobility Unit Management Officer David Rubia added that the purpose of the pilot is to evaluate various aspects of electric motorbike operation. This would help policymakers develop the right policy framework to see a sustainable shift to low emissions electric mobility in Kenya, starting with two and three-wheelers. 

    The UN organisation stated that the demand for motorbikes was rising with stakeholders expecting approximately half a billion motorcycles, effectively almost doubling today’s fleet, to be in circulation by 2050. 

    It noted that bikes are also the largest source of self-employment for urban youth. Shifting towards electric mobility as opposed to fuel-based mobility is an opportunity for youth to maximize profits from their daily earnings. 

    Electric motorcycles have a much lower operating cost than internal combustion engines. The bikes are fully electric, meaning that it lacks a clutch and the rider does not experience abrupt starts. They also have a speed limit of 45km/h.

    In Europe, the bikes charge Ksh23 per minute and it hasn't been ascertained whether the same will be applied in Kenya. They will be charged at designated locations in the cities with users requesting rides through a mobile app. 

    Electric vehicles are also popular within Nairobi city, with surveys indicating that there were 300 electric vehicles in Kenya as of 2019. A taxi service managed by Finland’s electric taxi service, Nopea Ride was launched in the county in 2018 and has charging stations at TRM along Thika Road, The Hub in Karen and Two Rivers Mall.

    Nopea already has 30 rented electric taxis in the city and plans to extend the cars to 100 by December 2021. Opibus, a Kenyan startup based in Industrial Area, Nairobi, also converts fuel automobiles to EVs. 

    Kenya in her updated Nationally Determined Contribution committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 and hopes to have 5 percent of all registered vehicles in Kenya being electric vehicles by 2025

    Electric motorbikes at a store in Nairobi. UNEP, on Tuesday, March 2, said that they will be deployed to Nairobi and Kisumu

    Watch UNEP unveil electric bikes in Kenya