Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has announced plans to build a nationwide network of charging stations to power electric vehicles. If executed, the plan would be a major boost to the shift from fossil fuels in Kenya to reduce carbon emissions. Electric vehicle conversion and purchases of electric cars and motorbikes in the country have in recent years been fueled by a number of innovative companies.
According to Bernard Ngugi, CEO of Kenya Power, the public charging stations would be installed along highways, at parking lots and at malls. They would first be installed in the capital, Nairobi, before being rolled out to the rest of the country. World Bank data indicates that adoption of electric vehicles in Nairobi presents a $5 Billion (Ksh551 billion) climate investment opportunity.
“As part of our implementation plan, we are developing appropriate infrastructure and building internal capacity to enable us to support the use of electric vehicles across the value chain. To this end, we plan to set up charging facilities across the country beginning with Nairobi to support direct charging of vehicles,” Ngugi stated on Tuesday, March 2.
The firm expects to generate revenue charging drivers to charge their vehicles at the public stations. Ngugi, however, failed to shed light on expected timelines for the project.
Investment by Kenya Power in a nationwide charging network would likely drive the increased adoption of electric vehicles in the country. Owners of electric vehicles, and those interested in acquiring them, have previously complained of a lack of incentives, tax-based or otherwise, from the government to encourage uptake of EVs.
Kenya Power, the loss-making state-owned power distributor, has been exploring new revenue streams in a bid to turn the ship around. Industrial consumers, who make some of its biggest clients, as well as homes are more than ever generating their own energy to avoid KPLC outages.
The uptake of solar in particular threatens KPLC revenues and saw the firm respond with a plan to venture into solar.
The project will see Kenya Power identify customers seeking to have solar panels installed on their rooftops and contract private firms in a design-build-finance and operate (DBFO) model.
Power generated would be sold by KPLC to homes and office blocks hosting the panels.