Africa could be on the verge of another incredible leapfrog event. We have seen it before with the telecommunications and fintech industries. Once the underserved and unbanked population were introduced to the world of mobile phones, and subsequently mobile money, they quickly jumped in. They simply bypassed the fixed line era and brick & mortar banking when superior technology and services became available, before the traditional telecoms and banking services had reached them.

The automotive industry presents a similar opportunity. A combination of Africa’s low levels of motorization, increasing annual vehicle sales across the continent (at  least 10% in most African countries, as compared to 4% in Europe), increase in congestion, air pollution, and a ballooning fiscal burden of high fuel prices are creating the perfect setting for a rapid transition to electric mobility.

META Electric, a subsidiary of Maris Ltd, an Africa-focused investment company, wants to help catalyze this transition and is now offering a leasing program with the option of direct sales for commercial electric vehicles, starting with BYD’s electric T3 van. Vans play a key role in the world’s economy and electrifying them makes a lot of sense. Reducing downtime, and lowering maintenance requirements and costs, unlocks efficiencies for fleet operators. Moreover, such electric vehicles will naturally reduce both carbon and pollutant emissions within Kenya’s transport sector. META Electric is targeting fleet operators in the e-commerce, hospitality, logistics, and security industries initially, before expanding to other market segments.

The T3 van is ideal for these operators given its impressive specifications. The van is powered by BYD’s proprietary NCM battery with a capacity of 50.3 kWh, giving an estimated 300 km driving range on a single charge. The 40kW DC charger allows charging from 0-100% SOC in 1.3 hours. A 6.6 kW AC charger will charge the van in about 8 hours. With a 3.8m³ cargo space and 0.7 ton payload, the BYD T3 meets the transportation needs of most urban logistics systems, and META Electric’s leasing platform will lower the barriers to entry for fleet operators who may not want to pay for the vans outright.

Traditionally, as in most African countries, a lot of people want to own their vehicles. People take pride in owning motor vehicles, but the sticker prices of brand new vehicles (ICE or EV) are a major barrier, which is why 90% of all vehicles brought into Kenya are used vehicles from Japan and the United Kingdom. META Electric’s lease period can be for up to 4 years and is inclusive of insurance and maintenance, offering customers a risk-free channel to electric mobility.

META Electric has so far received two new electric vans, which will be leased to companies in Nairobi which are serious about reducing their carbon footprint. The Nairobi company Neo Kenya Mpya is one of the firms that has already received one of the electric vans from META Electric, a positive sign for the future of greener public transport. “The fight against climate change is urgent and we need  environmental pathfinders who are prepared to go the extra mile at this early stage of adoption. META Electric  wants to lead the way.” Says Brian Chege, META Electric’s General Manager.

Kenya is one of the best countries for electric vehicles. Around 93% of Kenya’s installed generation capacity is now dominated by renewables including wind, geothermal, hydro, and some utility-scale solar. Fleet operators can take advantage of reduced off-peak tariffs by charging their vehicles at their premises during the night. We hope to see more these vans on Kenyan roads soon.

All images by Katherine Keango


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