Africa E-Mobility Week 2023 – accelerating the African e-mobility transition with a focus on innovation, investment, and policy

Held in Nairobi, 1-3 November 2023, Africa E-Mobility Week conference showcased the latest developments in the African electric vehicle (EV) sector to a wide range of stakeholders, including manufacturers, investors, regulators and development finance institutions. Representatives from Energy Catalyst’s portfolio joined an esteemed cohort of stakeholders taking part in thought-provoking panel discussions and sessions. Key themes that emerged throughout the sessions included tariffs and their impact on government revenues, retrofitting and standards, charging and swapping technologies, industry infrastructure, investment readiness, rural mobility, and gender inclusion. A pertinent question that came  up during these discussions was ‘how can we inclusively drive Africa’s e-mobility sector forward?’.

The conference provided ample opportunities to address this question and in his keynote address, Dr John Mutua, Director of Economic Regulation and Strategy at the Energy Petroleum Regulatory Authrotiy (EPRA), emphasised the importance of e-mobility companies working effectively with government to create a predictable policy environment that supports investment acceleration. The keynote address was then followed by the Kenyan regulator sharing E-Mobility-Guidelines, providing clarity on off-peak and peak energy pricing, whilst also launching EV charging station guidelines aimed at incentivising private sector players to install charging infrastructure at strategic locations.  

Another landmark moment during the conference was the launch of Zero Emissions Mobility Africa (ZE-Mobility), a collaboration between the Carbon Trust and Open Capital. During a plenary session Open Capital’s Katharina Webber explained how ZE-Mobility aims to tackle barriers to EV adoption, such as access to finance, high cost, policy limitations, charging infrastructure and low consumer awareness. The ZE-Mobility accelerator will facilitate initiatives aimed at demonstrating emerging technologies and new business models, promoting knowledge and research, and investigating various financing options across the value chain.

Mazi Mobility Ride to COP flag off
1. Mazi Mobility Ride to COP flag off

Jerusha Opondo, Head of Programs at Energy Catalyst portfolio company E-Safiri took part in the session entitled ‘Charging or Swapping?’ which assessed whether the future of African e-mobility would be dominated by plug-in charging or battery swapping.  Sharing insights from experience in the battery swap market, Jerusha contributed to a lively debate emphasising the need to understand and cater to driver behaviour, to accelerate innovation to reduce charge times, and to standardise point charging hardware and communication.

The conference also  fostered discussions around consumer financing and insurance opportunities. Positive sentiments were shared around how lending for EVs has become more accessible, primarily due to the tracking capabilities of EV assets and the compelling cost savings they offer to users when compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles.

Charging or Swapping track discussion
2. Charging or Swapping track discussion

Attendees were motivated by key developments discussed over the course of the conference to tackle customer pain points and drive e-mobility adoption. Africa-based asset finance company WATU Credit is in the midst of transitioning its regional deployment to EVs, with its subsidiary in Rwanda planning to offer 100% EV loans and ongoing EV transitions in Uganda. The Kenyan portfolio company is also in the process of transitioning to EVs on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, to counter range anxiety, M-KOPA is developing charging stations to ensure the seamless use of EVs, while KCB bank, with a massive 700,000 client base, is actively developing EV lending products in close collaboration with insurance providers to create a more comprehensive product.

The Africa E-Mobility Week, organised by the Africa E-Mobility Alliance (AfEMA) and sponsored by GIZ and UNEP, has become an annual gathering of thought leaders and innovators. The next AEW is scheduled for September 4-6, 2024, in Nairobi, Kenya, with exciting awards across multiple categories. It promises to be another exceptional event driving Africa’s electric mobility sector forward.