It is 2016 and in some parts of the world people with money have bought the Tesla Model S or the Model X and are enjoying the semi-autonomous capabilities of these electric vehicles. Those who couldn’t afford these two models have pre-ordered the upcoming Tesla Model 3.

Well the future is sort of here and big things are happening. Almost every serious car maker is thinking of completely electric vehicles. Better yet the clamour for fully autonomous cars is happening as companies figure out how to make money in a new world where people will no longer buy cars.

Think of it this way if you haven’t: Why own a car?

There are a couple of answers to this question. Some own cars as a show of wealth. Some own cars for racing competitions and leisure pastimes. But above all, the reason most people own vehicles is to make travel easier. It, some years back, reached this point where humans needed vehicles as a necessity and not as a way of showing off their wealth like in the past.

It has been said by many that a rich economy in not one in which everyone owns a car, rather it is one where even the rich use public transport.

Kenya lacks a proper public transport system. And it is seriously affecting us even if we don’t know or see it yet.

Everyone (who can) wants to buy a vehicle so that they don’t suffer using matatus and buses and the madness that is on the roads. This means that the number of vehicles on our roads is constantly increasing. You’ll probably be shocked when you see the rate at which people are buying vehicles in Kenya. And this, others would see it positively, is bad.

We are importing more than exporting. We are burning the wrong fuel, always more non-renewable fuel. We are further polluting the environment. We are creating diseases here and there. There’s so much going on that’s negative to us, our health and our future.

The one thing Kenyans cannot and will never do is give up vehicles for the sake of the environment or the future. That would be a futile campaign. Kenyans will get money and buy even bigger fuel guzzlers.

Instead of telling people to not buy vehicles, we should think of a way to make Kenyans think that electric cars leave alone self driving ones are not a preserve for nations that have developed. That they can be driven here in Africa. And that they are the future we should be looking forward to.

The government should think bigger and put projects to ensure Kenya transitions to the post fossil fuel era before any African nation.

Instead of talking about oil, Kenyans should talk about nuclear power (we are among the lucky nations with an approved program). Instead of Kenyans dreaming of fuel guzzlers, we should be dreaming of a completely electric and autonomous transport system. A system free from the accidents we continuously complain about. A system that solves our traffic jam problems and is cost friendly in the long run for all Kenyans.


What made me write this is the belief by some people (I don’t want to say most) that electric vehicles and self-driving ones are science fiction from movies. I recently sat down and had a discussion with university students and it shocked me that people couldn’t believe that there are fully electric vehicles. It amazed me that someone would call it a lie the fact that companies are making self driving cars. And that as early as 2018 the first batch will be available to buy.

Kenya should be taught to think differently if we are serious about being at par with developed nations in the near future.

Electric cars only need electricity. Self driving cars need good roads and good road signs. And that is something we can achieve.

Sometimes we don’t go with important trends and by the time we think of catching up, we are far behind and are still labeled third world nations.

In a future of autonomous cars, the need to own cars will be a preserve maybe for the very wealthy people. We may still be far from that but we can make electric vehicles a reality in Kenya as soon as we want. And this will help us start easily transitioning from fossil fuels.

All this is possible. It starts with talking. It starts with knowing.

 

  • muchiri

    finally a revolution is coming to Kenya on green energy for sustainable transport and a prosperous future. I am a university student and share in your belief that electric vehicles are the future. I want Kenya to be a pioneer in Africa on this issue, the potential is huge, all we need is awareness. I mean, taking Nairobi for example, most people working here are daily commuters who only cover a maximum of about 50KM to work therefore about 100KM in a day. the Nissan leaf’s range is perfect for them. Am a believer in early adoption and calculated risks and their benefits. I envision a Nairobi where in 5 years, today’s owners of “budget friendly” ICE cars like, Toyota probox, fielders, NZE, nissan AD etc will each drive a Nissan leaf, a chevloret bolt or a Tesla model 3 and those into higher models like Mercedes VW, BMW will comfortably drive Tesla model S and those into SUV and crossover vehicles driving a Tesla Model X. Also fo matatu commutters like my self travelling in the Nissan E200 7 seater EV, wont that be nice?

  • Hi. Good article. The thinking is spot on. We promote low carbon Tranport particularly driving electric for kenya. We even power them via solar. we have 2 Nissan leafs on show and can import any electric car. You can reach us on http://www.knightsenergy.co.Ke. Perhaps we can do something jointly.

    Romano