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Ambassador report

Ambassador report

[Ambassador report] [Thematic Report] Eco Friendly Mobility in Kenya

by Ananya Dave | 24-11-2020 18:05 Comments 2 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

45% of Kenyans travel through non-motorised means of transport (NMT), which means that many either walk or cycle. However, majority of those that walk or cycle are low-income individuals as majority of the streets in Kenya are not considered as safe (due to large amounts of congestion,  street boys and beggars) or clean enough to walk on by the upper working class and middle class Kenyan society coupled with the fact that sidewalks are most accessible in main cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa. Despite the many using NMT these individuals primarily use ‘Matatus’ which are privately owned mini busses which are registered by the government in groups known as ‘SACCO's’ as a means of transport. A Sacco (Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization) is a group of people with similar interests who come together to form a credit union. One common issue with the widespread use of Matatus is ‘engine idling’ which is the act of matatu drivers leaving their engines on despite being stationary so that they can attract more customers by making them believe that they shall depart soon, other drivers say they leave their engine on because it will not start again if they turn it off. Hence, the engine is running and polluting the air unnecessarily for 30 minutes to an hour while waiting for passengers to board the bus. Many matatu drivers say their engine is switched on for an average of 14 to 16 hours a day.

 According to The World Health Organization nearly 19,000 Kenyans die prematurely annually due to air pollution.  The other issue is that due to regulatory capture, or many officials also having stakes in matatu related saccos, many matatus have been allowed to continue operating with very old engines. Therefore for Kenya to transition to a more eco friendly transport system, environmental restrictions must be enforced with necessary political will and monitoring to ensure that rules are followed and engine idling must be discouraged by the Kenyan society through raising awareness so that less air pollution is experienced.

Kenya is a developing country and so despite  generating over 2700MW, out of which over 80% is renewable, against the demand at 1860MW and the electricity access rate in the country also stands at 73.4% as of the end of April 2018  many areas in Kenya still do not have access to electricity, furthermore there are frequent electricity blackouts during the rainy seasons even in big cities like Nairobi. Therefore, a widespread use of electric cars for domestic use in the near future is not very plausible except for the upper middle class and high societies of Kenya who can afford electric cars and who have generators at home to ensure a consistent and abundant supply of electricity. 

However, we have had 350 electric motor vehicles in Kenya by December 2018. These are mostly offered through services such as Nopia Ride which was the first fully electric ride sharing app in Kenya established in August 2018. Hailed as an ‘eco-taxi’, it offers zero-emission rides allowing the company to charge less compared to other ride hailing apps, pay their drivers more and protect the environment. There is also Solar E-Cycles develops electric bicycles, scooters and 3- and 4-wheel vehicles. The solar powered light electric vehicles can travel 50 km a day just with power from the solar rooftop. Although such companies exist, the use is not very widespread as a the favourite mode of transportation would be a Matatu and Boda Boda – which is by motorbike. Taxi services provided by Uber and Bolt who use motorised vehicles are most popular amongst Kenyans.

There is a scope for growth in the use of electric vehicles in the future as more people become sensitized to the environmental benefits and as the country develops to a point where more individuals can afford electric transport.









SJ Mentor

  • SJ Mentor says :
    Hello Ananya!
    It's your SJ mentor.

    Thank you for sharing your report regarding the eco-friendly mobility in Kenya.
    It is sorrowful that so many people in Kenya were dying due to air pollution.
    Engine Idling is harmful to environment that keeps emitting gas while being stopped.
    I hope Idle Stop & Go system could adapt to matatus but ISG system is quite expensive.
    I think we should consider the way to save energy and turn on the greener movements in developing countries.
    Not only citizenship but political supports are required.
    Hope things are fine with you.

    Best regards,
    SJ mentor.
    Posted 04-12-2020 15:52

Mun WooJooMentor

  • Mun WooJooMentor says :
    Hello Ananya,
    this is your mentor WooJoo.

    Warm greetings from South Korea.
    Thank you for sharing the current mobility system in Kenya.
    It is sad to say that same thing happens In South Korea in public transports and cars, to operate the air conditioner/ heating.
    And of course, this is a problem because they are engine-based mobilities that emit greenhouse gases.
    I am sorry to hear that such big number of people die because of air pollution.
    We should try even harder to decrease the consequences by shifting the mobilities in a more eco-friendly way.
    The Solar E-cycle sounds nice, and I just hope that a safe road and infrastructure for the riders are built.

    Keep sharing

    Posted 29-11-2020 22:42

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