What is air pollution in Nairobi like?

Motor vehicle traffic is a massive source of particulate pollution in cities of the developing world, where rapid growth, coupled with a lack of effective transport and land use planning, may result in harmful levels of fine particles (PM2.5) in the air.

Major pollutants in Nairobi city are vehicles and this is as a result of incomplete combustion in car engines. The situation is worsened by traffic jams that concentrate the pollution in one area. Kenya is one of the few countries in Africa to have banned cars using the most sulphurous fuels, but what research there is suggests Nairobi is still one of the most polluted cities worldwide – made worse by smoke from roadside rubbish fires, diesel generators and indoor cooking stoves.

The number of cars in Africa is still relatively small, but the emissions per vehicle are much higher than the rest of the world. Africa’s urban air is especially bad because so few cars are new, the vast majority having been shipped in secondhand from Japan and Europe with their catalytic converters and air filters dismantled.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that the level of fine particulate matter in the city’s outdoor air is 17 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). This is 70% above the recommended maximum level. Fossil fuel and coal are the main contributors to air pollution. Therefore, opting for alternative or renewable energy sources to produce power presents a practical solution to air pollution.

One way to ensure use of renewable energy is using electric cars for public transportation. Electric ride hailing services such as NopeaRide not only provide timely and convenient transportation but decrease air pollution while at it.