Watu Credit, a financial services company, and ARC Ride, a battery-as-a-service provider, have partnered to set up over 300 battery swap stations in Nairobi by the end of 2024. The partnership will also see the manufacture of 1,000 electric vehicles.
This partnership is a response to the growing demand for electric vehicles in Kenya, particularly among boda boda riders and public service vehicles. Battery swapping stations allow drivers to quickly exchange their depleted batteries for fully charged ones, eliminating the need to wait for their batteries to charge.
Watu Credit is investing in ARC Ride to help the company develop and deliver electric vehicles that are responsive to the needs of the African market. The company is also helping ARC Ride set up battery swap stations across Nairobi.
The Kenyan government is also supporting the transition to electric vehicles. The government recently signed a KES 8.7 billion deal with the Millennium Change Corporation to purchase electric buses for the Nairobi Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system. The government is also working with the European Commission to secure EUR 347.6 million in financing for the construction of an exclusive lane for electric buses.
In addition, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has approved a new E-mobility tariff that provides low-cost power for electric vehicle charging during night-time hours.
Overall, the Watu Credit and ARC Ride partnership is a significant step forward for the adoption of electric vehicles in Kenya. The partnership will make it easier and more affordable for Kenyans to switch to electric vehicles, which will help to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.
The swap sites are in various locations along Eastlands, Ngong Road, Githurai, Westlands, Kiambu Road, Kebete, Mombasa Road and Thika Super Highway. The battery swap stations serve at least 50 riders per day, and these numbers have been going up as the number of swap stations increase.
“We are expanding our network of automated swapping stations to ensure that electric boda customers can conveniently replace their batteries when the need arises. Customers can replace batteries in under a minute for as low as Sh 350 per day, for unlimited swaps,” ARC Ride, represented by George Songe, said.
To make them secure and accessible, the swap stations are set up through partnerships with food chain outlets such as Dominos and Artcaffe and fuel marketing firms such as Ola Energy.
The Kenyan government has prioritised the adoption of e-motorbikes into the boda boda sector, and Watu’s investment aligns with the efforts to improve access to charging infrastructure in Kenya. It will further contribute to meeting Kenya’s goal of ensuring that at least 5% of all recently imported vehicles are fully electric by 2025, as stated in the National Climate Change Action Plan.
“We want to offer financing solutions that not only make access to e-motorbikes affordable to our customers and accessible nationwide. This investment will boost their penetration and uptake as we play our part to contribute to a just transition,” Andrii Volokha, general manager for East Africa at Watu, said.
Watu, a company whose e-motorbike financing model enables customers to acquire an electric motorcycle for Sh450 daily, has been at the forefront of asset financing for two and three-wheeler vehicles. So far, it has financed the purchase of over 100 electric assets in Kenya.