Making Electric Vehicles Available to all in Nairobi

Roam is hoping to make electric vehicles the wave of the future.

(Sandor Szmutko/

Clean air is making its way to Nairobi with the help of a surge in electric vehicles. The Kenyan capital is more environmentally friendly than ever. If you’ve ever been to Nairobi, you know that the best way to get around is by gas powered motorcycle taxi, or a “boda boda”. Now, according to Fast Company, change is coming for these motorcycles, which are a major source of air pollution, especially in Kenya's capital Nairobi.

It started with a bus
But before motorcycles, it started with a bus. In 2022, as CNN reports, Roam, a Swedish-Kenyan electric-vehicle producer, was a finalist for the Earthshot Prize for the design of its electric bus. Currently it is in the process of getting two EV bus prototypes on the road: the Roam Rapid, which can seat about 90 people, and has a range of 224 miles, and the Roam Move, a smaller bus that is still in prototype stage.

The importance of this, as Fast Company points out, is that buses run all day, every day, and so, along with boda bodas, are a major source of air pollution. Electrifying Nairobi’s bus systems will bring about a huge, positive change to the country’s environmental well-being.

Built by locals for local needs
In the meantime, as the Roam buses are in the process of getting off the ground, Roam has pioneered another EV product, and this one is gaining steam. According to Fast Company, the Roam Air, an electric motorbike was designed by locals, for local needs- such as the rough roads, and the need to carry packages or passengers. It comes with two batteries, so that one can be left charging at home while the other one is in use, and has a range of about 112 miles per charge. 

According to Global Fleet, Roam Airs will be priced at a bit above what the average Kenyan can afford. However, Roam has partnered with M-Kopa to provide attractive financing options that can make the e-motorbike much more affordable to the average consumer. 

The hope, according to Fast Company, is that the e-bike industry will follow the same pattern as many other industries in Africa, with innovation running on a fast-track. For instance, most African households never had a landline- they went straight from no phone to mobile phones. The same is the case with credit cards. They simply got skipped. Africans went from paper money to mobile money.

Most people in Kenya do not own their vehicles. But, as more and more young people move to the bigger cities, such as Nairobi, the hope is that by making electric vehicles available and attractive, the market will skip right over gas-run vehicles and move straight to electric vehicles. This would be a win for consumers, but also a huge win for the environment. 

Roam is a testament to the fact that innovation and good economic sense can make for significant changes for good.

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