The Kenyan government unveiled plans to roll out electric motorbikes across the country on Friday.
President William Ruto announced the initiative with African startup Spiro just days before he hosts the first Africa Climate Summit in the Kenyan capital Nairobi next week.
About two million motorbikes are on the roads in Kenya, he said, mostly “boda bodas” or two-wheeled taxis that are commonly used across the continent.
“The adoption of electric mobility is a high-priority intervention to address the challenges of pollution, adverse health effects, and fuel costs,” Ruto said.
Kenya, he said, aimed to eventually phase out the combustion engine-powered motorbikes, warning that the increasing use of such vehicles across the continent had “serious implications” for climate change and air quality.
Although Africa contributes only two to three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it suffers disproportionately from climate change, according to the UN Environment Program.
Spiro said it has already introduced nearly 10,000 electric bikes in Africa to countries including Benin, Togo, Rwanda, and Uganda.
It said in a statement it plans to set up 3,000 battery-charging and swapping stations in Kenya, in addition to 350 already across Africa, with a planned rollout possibly of more than one million electric vehicles throughout the country.
Ruto, who has positioned himself at the forefront of African efforts to combat climate change, said Kenya had the potential by 2030 to generate 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as hydroelectric, geothermal, solar and wind power, from more than 90 percent now.
Kenya generates most of its energy from renewable sources such as hydroelectric and geothermal power.
But the country suffers from frequent power cuts.
A massive outage last weekend left several regions without electricity for hours, including Nairobi and its international airport, which was plunged into darkness after a generator serving the main terminals failed to work.
Fuel prices at the pump have recently soared to their highest levels in more than a decade, adding to the economic hardship of Kenyans suffering from a cost-of-living crisis and a raft of new taxes.
Currently, the number of registered electric vehicles (EVs) accounts for less than one per cent of the total 4.4 million registered vehicles, according to government figures.