Electric Bikes – A Cleaner and Faster Way to Beat Kenya’s Traffic. Celeste Vogel and Jimmy Tune are driven to make our cities more sustainable and livable. This is why they co-founded eWAKA, a platform for commuter and business electric micro-mobility fleets. They think that the solution to lessening traffic jams, air pollution, and noise pollution is electric micromobility.
A Kenyan startup called eWAKA offers electric two-wheelers, including cargo cycles, to various users, including commuters, commuters, and women. The business is dedicated to discovering environmentally friendly ways to dispose of used batteries because it thinks electric freight bikes are the most effective way to cut carbon emissions in cities like Nairobi. It was established in 2021 to determine the kinds of electric vehicles outside Kenya that would be most successful across Africa.
“When we started, the sector was geared toward boda boda (motorcycle) riders, but we believed that not everyone should be treated the same. We intended to design electric two-wheelers that would appeal to a wider demographic, such as commuters, commuting women, and young people,” Vogel added. “Our first client was a clinic transporting lab technicians, nurses, and doctors to provide urgent care at home or the workplace using our electric scooters. They would have otherwise needed to take a car, which would have wasted a lot of time in traffic.
“We then tested our scooters with commuters to see if they would be interested in taking control of their schedules rather than waiting for public transportation,” she said. “We found that many people were interested in getting their electric bike, especially as fuel prices are going up.” They were successful in making significant time and financial savings.
We also considered cargo bikes, and we were the first to introduce real cargo bikes to Kenya that can support a rider weighing 165 to 200 kg. The Shujaa, our flagship bike, underwent commercial testing with delivery riders in collaboration with fleets and logistics companies. We created a strategy that we discovered to be more scalable by matching job opportunities with riders, particularly women riders and young individuals without jobs. Instead of renting the bike, we would give it to them for free, help them find employment, ensure that the employment pays well, and then pay ourselves for the money made at the end of the day.
The e-bike is our final vehicle, aimed at both commuters and business users. We include charging equipment in addition to the battery. In addition to musing Kenya’s affordable electricity prices, consumers can choose when and how to charge their bikes. Additionally, users can choose when they want to charge the battery. Many of our clients purchase an extra battery so they can control their swapping and are not reliant on others to determine when they may swap and how much it will cost. These are the bicycles that our business offers,” she remarked.
Medical Checkups: Bought e-bikes from Wanaka.
The creator and CEO of Checkups Medical, Dr. Moka Lantum, has accepted a ground-breaking solution in the form of electric bikes in response to growing fuel prices and environmental concerns. His creative idea, which uses e-bikes to transport nurses to homes in logistically difficult places, has cut the company’s fuel use by 80% and established a model for environmentally friendly healthcare delivery.
Our main site has seven motorcycles that deliver medications within a 10-kilometer range. We also have nurses who can make house calls on demand using bicycles. The price of battery charging takes the place of fuel costs. In the last year, we cut our gasoline consumption by 80%. We anticipate cutting our use by another 15-20% in the upcoming year,” he stated.
Dr. Lantum continued, “We must upgrade our infrastructure to make electric bikes safer and more accessible. This entails creating designated bike lanes and educating drivers about traffic laws. We also need to spread the word about their advantages to encourage more people to utilize electric bikes. Electric bikes can potentially be a secure and environmentally friendly means of transportation for everyone with the correct infrastructure and training.
Lantum intends to encourage others to use this environmentally friendly form of transportation by increasing knowledge of these cars’ advantages on the economy and the environment.
A Greener Future with Electric Cargo Bikes?
The climate crisis is mostly a result of the transportation industry. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), transportation is responsible for around one-fifth of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, with road travel making up most of this total.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a study on April 4, 2022, that showed legislative reforms and declining costs for renewable energy and electric car batteries have slowed the expansion of the climate problem during the previous ten years. The analysis also concluded that drastic, rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are required to stop emissions increase. The latest IPCC report presents several potential scenarios for how much emissions can be reduced because of advancements in the transportation industry.
Electric cars, also known as EVs, are vital to the plan to clean up the transportation industry. However, the efficiency of the power grid ultimately determines how well EVs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EVs are crucial to achieving the world’s climate goals. They play a significant role in emission reduction strategies that adhere to the Paris Agreement’s targets of limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Since e-bikes are electrically propelled and much quieter than autos, they can aid in the reduction of noise pollution.
According to Vogel, our bikes are entirely electric, so they emit no carbon dioxide. In our opinion, the best method to lower carbon emissions in cities like Nairobi is with electric cargo bikes. They can carry a lot of weight and are strong and agile. Additionally, they don’t pollute or produce noise, major issues in Nairobi. We would have significantly lower pollution and noise levels in Nairobi if everyone commuted on electric cargo bikes. We would also save money.
Are electric bikes safe and quiet?
Even though EVs don’t release greenhouse gases directly, the manufacturing and charging processes still produce emissions. This is because it is used to power EVs and is frequently generated using fossil fuels. Fueling fuels are also necessary for extracting and processing materials used to create EV batteries.
The extraction of raw elements like cobalt and lithium is necessary to manufacture EV batteries. These resources can be mined in ways that are damaging to the environment and can have a severe effect on nearby communities. Although there are initiatives to recycle EV batteries and utilize them in other applications, manufacturers are attempting to create more environmentally friendly battery manufacturing techniques.
Since the beginning of our business, we have been considering battery waste management. Like Europe, Africa lacks a significant infrastructure for recycling electric vehicle batteries. But there are several initiatives in motion to deal with this problem. We’re discussing using used batteries to power home appliances with a potential partner. We are dedicated to identifying sustainable solutions for battery waste since we don’t want to exacerbate the continent of Africa’s waste issue.
A Global Initiative for Environmental Protection
“The Africa Climate Summit demonstrates Kenya’s dedication to combating climate change. To create the best regulations and standards for electric mobility, my organization, the Electric Mobility Association of Kenya, collaborates with decision-makers and other interested parties. I concur that it is the duty of the government, as well as stakeholders like us, to promote discussions and offer recommendations to make sure that we function in a self-regulatory environment that addresses issues like the caliber of imported electric vehicle parts and the importation of used petrol cars from other nations. According to Vogel, these are crucial conversations that must occur, and everyone is aware of their necessity.
International businesses are setting the bar for EV adoption, and many have high goals for electrifying their fleets.
Thanks to creative policies and programs, Africa is seeing a rise in electric mobility. To encourage the use of electric vehicles (EVs), several nations, including Rwanda, Mauritius, and Ethiopia, have implemented progressive regulations and incentives. A few African governments are starting to implement measures to encourage the use of EVs. For instance, Kenya wants electric vehicles to make up 5% of all vehicle imports by 2025, and Egypt wants to start producing 20,000 cars internally in 2023. Ethiopia has offered subsidies for the purchase of EVs, and Rwanda has freed EVs from import duties and taxes. Additionally, in February 2023, the African Development Bank (AfDB) declared that it would give grants totaling US$1 million for technical assistance to boost the development of EV infrastructure in Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and South Africa.
Renewable energy-powered smart grids can assist Africa in overcoming its persistent power shortages, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and achieving its climate goals.
“I know that Kenya has set lower prices for electric transportation than other applications. Because all of our batteries are detachable, users can remove them and charge them at home like they would their phones. Additionally, we offer charging stations across the city, including at our facility. Riders have a choice between charging at night and during the day. Many of our clients buy two batteries to switch out as needed.
Exposing Human Rights Violations in DR Congo Cobalt Mines
Specific metals, like copper and cobalt, which are necessary for producing lithium-ion batteries, are becoming increasingly in demand due to the rising need for renewable energy technology. Amnesty International says these batteries are employed in gadgets like electric cars and mobile phones.
(DRC) has resulted in horrific human rights violations and the forcible relocation of entire towns. In their study, Powering Change or Business as Usual?, Amnesty International and the DRC-based Initiative pour la Bonne Gouvernance et les Droits Humains (IBGDH) go into detail. Many communities have been evicted from their homes and farmland due to multinational businesses’ rush to develop mining activities. The cobalt and copper reserves of the DRC are the greatest and seventh largest, respectively, in the world. According to the human rights organization analysis, cobalt demand will increase from 2010 to 222,000 tonnes by 2025.
During two separate visits in 2022, Amnesty and IBGDH conducted more than 130 interviews at six distinct mining projects in and around Kolwezi, a city in the southern province of Lualaba. Researchers discovered that people were deceived into agreeing to ludicrous settlements or coerced, bullied, or threatened into leaving their homes. A grievance procedure, accountability, or access to justice were frequently absent. The study urges the DRC government and the mining firms to act right once to cease the forced evictions and other human rights vio and ensure that the affected communities are fairly paid and relocated.
Despite the growing momentum, Sub-Saharan Africa faces certain obstacles in its transition to electric mobility, including an unstable electricity supply, low vehicle affordability, and the predominance of old cars. According to McKinsey, the upfront cost of EVs is currently out of reach for many Africans because of their generally low household incomes, the difficulty finding inexpensive asset financing, and the greater cost of EVs.
The absence of a charging infrastructure, combined with the poor state of the roads and energy grids in many African nations, is another obstacle to adopting electric vehicles in the continent.
“The electric mobility industry is still in its infancy, but the initial cost is the main worry, particularly for those with modest incomes. The greatest obstacle to adoption is locating financial options. People need to be informed about the advantages of electric mobility, including how it reduces pollution and traffic congestion. Because they are democratic, simple to use, and can assist in lessening traffic congestion, cargo bicycles are especially advantageous for African cities. We are encouraged by the increased interest in electric mobility in Africa and think it has the potential to change the face of our cities, according to Vogel.