At this point in the 21st century, you would either have to be living under a rock or in absolute seclusion from civilization if you haven’t at least heard, let alone experience, the concept of electric vehicles. With the advent and consistent rise of global tech-progressive companies such as Tesla and Coda Automotive, the concept of there being an entirely rechargeable traffic jam in a majority of the world’s busiest highways is not as farfetched as one might have previously imagined. The futuristic top tier likes to poeticize it by claiming that “The future is electric”, and by the feel of how things are going, it is safe to argue that the future of global transport is soon to be purely electric.
Inarguably, the impact of this progression is largely felt in already developed first-world countries. After all, this is where the bulk of innovative and technological developments seem to stem from in recent and past years. That being said, there has been a rampant awareness and numerous talks-in-the-street about this particular advancement of electric vehicles amongst developing second and third world countries. These conversations and interests are fueled by the continuously growing need for convenience driven by the high demand for efficient and sustainable transport systems in these developing states. In Kenya, for example, the inconsistent rise and stagnation of gas prices make it utterly difficult for public transport operators and cab services to efficiently monitor their returns on a long-term basis. They, in turn, have to keep adjusting bus/cab fee charges periodically in order to make positive returns, a habit that deeply inconveniences the customer.
The introduction of electric cars and buses in such markets would have an immeasurable positive impact, in that, apart from standardizing the expenses for the matatu and cab operators thereby making the experience more fair for the customer, they would also be doing their bit in making the transport sector more eco-friendly and sustainable by considerably reducing the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions dispensed therefore contributing to an all-roundedly safer and cleaner environment.
Additionally, the current public system is clouded with disorder and a wide range of other retrogressive vices such as petty crime and corruption. Not a week goes by without there being yet another distasteful rape, abuse or theft case within the public transport industry. If the new electric mobility “wave” comes with proper management and control measures and checks, it is bound to not only be eco-friendly and convenient but also safe and dependable for the common traveler to have no worry in the world while traveling wherever within the country knowing full well that he/she is subscribed to a reliable, trustworthy system that aims to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and due diligence in the execution of its services. The dream of a well-managed and highly accountable fleet of eco-friendly electric motorcycles to replace the raggedy, mismanaged typical boda-boda would, for example, be a new frontier in elevating the currently messy public transport industry.
Nopia ride is the first of its peers to recognize this impactful possibility in Kenya. The initiative was launched on August 9th, 2018 by EkoRent Africa as the first-ever fully electric mobility service within the East African region. The project is now fully operational within the Nairobi region and one can simply book a ride through their easy-to-use Play Store application. They have gone as far as to integrate an M-Pesa Xpress payment system for payment services. Charging stations are located at Two Rivers Mall but there are future plans to spread charging stations at strategic spots throughout the city.
Apart from public transportation, the tourism eco-space would greatly benefit from the concept of electric/green mobility. As is often the case, travel and tour agencies usually use Land Cruisers, Defenders and Caravan Nissans to ferry tourists around natural sights and scenes for game drives in sentient places like the Maasai Mara, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo East National Park and Samburu National Reserve, to mention but a few. A closer analysis, however, shows that these vehicles are not ideal for this from a sustainable standpoint because they have heavy engines that produce a lot of emissions in comparison to a standard personal saloon car. This is of concern because the maintenance of low carbon levels is especially important to protect the precious biodiversity present in these natural environments. The adoption of functional, all-purpose electric tour vehicles would do wonders in making the tourism industry more eco-friendly. It can also be further improved by specifically adapting the vehicles to suit the natural environment.
A good instance is by modeling a special set of tires for the electric tour vehicle that gently traverses the terrain without abrasively loosening the soil particles thereby immensely reducing the rate of soil erosion, contrary to the case in traditional tour vehicles. Another added plus of shifting to electric vehicles in the tourism space is that they happen to be quieter than their traditional counterparts hence maintaining low noise pollution levels in the natural spaces which conserve peace within the special natural living fabric of the environment and is ideal for close monitoring of wildlife by conservationists and researchers.
Opibus is a Sweedish company that is on the front line of making sustainable and electric tours and travel a forthcoming reality in the country and with the many possible advantages of the electric shift in the tourism space, it is expected that they are on the fast track towards unimaginable success in their quest to promote sustainable tourism and travel.