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HomeNewsKenya Power CEO says firm investing in EV infrastructure for 'rapid expansion'

Kenya Power CEO says firm investing in EV infrastructure for ‘rapid expansion’

The state utility will work with private investors, which will finance the development of the charging stations.

Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) will spend KSh10m (around $66,000) in the current fiscal year to erect more electric vehicle (EV) charging points within major cities as it stands pivotal in supporting the country’s electric mobility transition.

The plan will see the state utility work with private investors, which will finance and handle the bulk of the stations. This is set to streamline the uptake of EVs while also generating additional revenue streams for KPLC given the growing popularity of clean transport.

‘We will help set up requisite infrastructure and ensure rapid expansion. This is going to be tenable. We don’t want to be stuck by virtue of lack of adequate infrastructure,’ KPLC CEO Joseph Siror tells The Africa Report.

So far, there are 11 charging points in Kenya – KPLC owns none. Electricity producer Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has four points situated at KPLC’s head office and Olkaria.

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E-mobility company BasiGo, which plans to bring around 1,000 EVs into Kenya within the next five years, has six charging points while its close competitor, Roam, has three points. The rise in units will drive up demand for infrastructure and power consumption in Kenya.

‘We are there to support whoever wants to enter into building the charging infrastructure. We may set up a few of our charging stations to complement, not to compete,’ says Siror.

Green ambition

KPLC-owned charging points are intended to serve its vehicle fleet, which is expected to be entirely overhauled from fossil fuel to electric-powered by 2027 as part of the country’s drive towards green energy. The state utility has ordered four EVs, 12 motorcycles and three forklifts for the pilot phase.

The vehicles are expected to be delivered in the course of 2024. After piloting, KPLC will enter rapid expansion of its electric fleet and charging points, starting with major towns – Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru.

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Charging stations have been granted a preferential lower power tariff of KSh17 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), almost half of what domestic power consumers are paying, guided by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).

EV charging systems are planned for along major highways, malls, parking lots, supermarkets and schools where accessibility is easy and consumers’ time of stay is likely to be longer, probably between 30 minutes and one hour, the estimated charging duration.

The network of Kenya’s charging system is still in the early stages of development. There is debate on whether to emulate the current system of fuel stations by allowing the charging points to border each other to minimise interruption and enhance wider reach.

Proper planning

However, the safety risks associated with this remain a big deterrence that will require thorough research and planning.

‘If it can be done in a secure manner, then we can have charging infrastructure adjacent to the fuel stations. But some studies should be done around that. The whole aspect is safety or maybe providing them in an enclosed place,’ says Siror.

In its latest policy guideline, EPRA has directed that charging stations will be set up every 25km on both sides of highways or roads, while in the cities, they will be situated within bus stops.

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EVs have gained momentum in several countries – including Norway, the Netherlands, the US and Germany – as the world pushes to cut down on carbon emissions amid the escalating cost of fuel.

East Africa’s largest economy is banking on the vast potential of clean energy – mainly from hydro, geo, solar and wind – to build surplus power and support clean mobility.

More charging points will only cure one of the leading challenges in upscaling e-mobility in Kenya. Other factors, such as the high prices of EVs and long-lasting energy-storing batteries, block the adoption of the technology.