EkoRent and Strathmore University set to expand access to solar charging for electric vehicles in Nairobi

Nairobi, Kenya: EkoRent Africa (EkoRent), a business supported by PIDG company InfraCo Africa and EEP Africa, has today signed a Solar Charging Project Collaboration Agreement with Strathmore Energy Research Centre through Strathmore Research and Consultancy Centre, establishing a framework for setting up Kenya’s first Nopea SolarHub Electric Vehicle Charging Station. EkoRent operates NopeaRide, an all-electric taxi-hailing service in the city with 14 grid-tied charging points in six locations across Nairobi: the new solar hub will now enable its vehicles to also charge their batteries using the power of the sun.

Speaking at the signing event, Juha Suojanen, Founder and CEO of EkoRent said: “The collaboration announced today is an exciting next step for NopeaRide in Nairobi. We look forward to cooperating with Strathmore Energy Research Centre, through its dedicated Research and Consultancy Centre, in finding localised solutions to further promote clean mobility in Kenya and Africa. The Nopea SolarHub charging stations on the Strathmore University campus are the first of their kind in Africa and show how it is possible to efficiently combine clean energy and clean mobility solutions. Due to Kenya being located on the Equator and ideal for harvesting clean solar energy, it has great potential to lead efforts towards zero-emissions transport in Africa.”

Under the terms of the Agreement, Strathmore University Energy Research Centre will provide space on its campus for NopeaRide to set up and install a Nopea SolarHub and Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for use by NopeaRide’s 100% electric taxi fleet.

Prof. Izael Da Silva, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Strathmore University, said during the partnership’s debut, “Africa is in the midst of robust technical developments and innovation. We are honoured to collaborate with EkoRent Africa in this monumental effort to achieve zero-emission mobility in Africa. Strathmore University prepares students to create projects that address societal issues. Higher education institutions are think- tanks where solutions to societal problems are produced, hence partnering with corporations to advance such revolutionary agendas is critical.”

Ravi Dhanani, InfraCo Africa’s Asset Manager said: “It is great to see EkoRent Africa working with Strathmore University to harness Kenya’s huge solar potential to support the growth of clean transport solutions and sustainable jobs. We expect that this initiative will provide learning for InfraCo Africa’s wider EV portfolio and will demonstrate the broader value of combining electric mobility with solar technology in the fight against climate change.”  

Lotta Wilkman, Portfolio Coordinator at EEP Africa, concluded: “We are pleased to support this partnership between EkoRent, a Finnish company pioneering electric mobility services, and Strathmore University, a leading research institution in Kenya. The SolarHub charging station for NopeaRide’s fleet of electric taxis will reduce traffic pollution and provide increased income for drivers in Nairobi and serve as a model for clean and affordable transport solutions across Africa.”  

Expected to be operational in 2H 2022, the new hub will lead the way in the use of solar power to ensure that electric vehicles further contribute to reducing Kenya’s carbon emissions.

Notes for editors:

  • Across Africa, populations are growing rapidly,[i] with increasing numbers of people moving to urban areas for work and education.
  • The Kenyan Government is committed to expanding the role of renewables in the country’s energy mix[ii] to reduce emissions and fossil fuel dependence. This commitment extends to exploring the role of renewables in the country’s transport sector.
  • InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), EkoRent Oy and EkoRent Africa (subsidiary of EkoRent Oy) signed a Shareholders Agreement in November 2020, investing to enable EkoRent Africa to scale up its pioneering NopeaRide electric mobility initiative in Nairobi. InfraCo Africa’s involvement will enable the company to grow its NopeaRide fleet in tandem with the expansion of the required charging infrastructure across the city. Further detail about the EkoRent Nopea project can be found here: https://infracoafrica.com/project/ekorent-nopea/
  • EEP Africa awarded a grant to EkoRent Africa in 2020 to develop a pilot solar-powered charging station for its fleet of electric taxis, testing the technology and determining the best strategy for its larger roll out across East Africa. Details about the NopeaRide Solar Hub project can be found at https://eepafrica.org/Portfolio/ekorent-africa/.

EkoRentEkoRent Finland was founded in Helsinki in 2014 and was the first company in Finland to offer fully electric hourly-based rental vehicles for private and business customers. In 2017, EkoRent Africa Ltd was established and it launched an all-electric taxi service – NopeaRide – in Nairobi the following year. EkoRent is now focused on solving traffic problems in rapidly developing African cities and is seeking to deliver clean transport for more people in Nairobi and in other cities across the region. To find out more visit: https://ekorent.fi/en/front-page/

NopeaRide: NopeaRide is an easy to hail, affordable and 100 % emission-free way to Go Places, with a Clear Conscience. Nopea Electric Vehicle fleet is the biggest EV taxi hailing fleet in Africa. NopeaRide reduces harmful air-pollution and offers affordable electric rides to everyone in Africa. Our mission is to Electrify Mobility in Africa, One City at a Time! To find out more visit: https://nopearide.com/

Strathmore University: Strathmore seeks to become a leading outcome-driven entrepreneurial research university by translating our excellence into a major contribution to culture, economic well-being, and quality of life. Strathmore aims at providing all-round quality education in an atmosphere of freedom and responsibility excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, ethical and social development, and service to the society. More information about Strathmore University can be found at www.strathmore.edu

The Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG): PIDG is an innovative infrastructure project developer and investor which mobilises private investment in sustainable and inclusive infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and south and south-east Asia. PIDG investments promote socio-economic development within a just transition to net zero emissions, combat poverty and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PIDG delivers its ambition in line with its values of opportunity, accountability, safety, integrity, and impact. Since 2002, PIDG has supported 171 infrastructure projects to financial close which provided an estimated 217 million people with access to new or improved infrastructure. PIDG is funded by the governments of  the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Germany and the IFC www.pidg.org

InfraCo Africa: InfraCo Africa is part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG). InfraCo Africa seeks to alleviate poverty by mobilising private investment into high-quality infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa’s poorest countries. It does this by investing directly into early-stage projects or by funding experienced teams to provide project development leadership. Through its investments arm, InfraCo Africa can also provide equity to close a financing gap and start construction or fund innovative solutions that need support to scale-up, to pilot new products or enter new markets. InfraCo Africa is funded by the governments of the United Kingdom (through DFID), the Netherlands (through DGIS) and Switzerland (through SECO). To find out more visit: www.infracoafrica.com

EEP Africa: EEP Africa is a clean energy financing facility hosted and managed by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), with funding from Austria, Finland, NDF and Switzerland. EEP Africa provides early-stage financing to innovative projects, technologies, and business models in 15 countries across Southern and East Africa. Since 2010, EEP Africa has invested EUR 52 million in more than 200 enterprises. Project financing is supplemented by technical support, investment facilitation and knowledge sharing. Learn more: https://eepafrica.org/  

[i] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.GROW?locations=ZF-ZG-1W

[ii] https://energy.go.ke/?page_id=15