NAIROBI - Kenya unveiled plans to roll out electric motorbikes across the country under a green transport scheme to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.
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.
"We are committed to enhancing our climate action by adopting low-carbon and efficient transportation systems through the application of innovations including clean, efficient, and sustainable energy technologies," Ruto said at the launch ceremony in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa.
Ruto said Kenya currently had 1,000 of the new e-bikes, with another 10,000 on their way, and that Spiro had established a plant with the capacity to assemble 1,000 of the vehicles daily.
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-three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it suffers disproportionately from climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme.
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 eventually of more than one million electric vehicles throughout the country.