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Kenya: Solar innovators develop electric motorbikes

Charles Ogingo, one of the co-founders of Pfoofy and the two motorbikes. EUNICE KILONZO
Charles Ogingo pictured with the motorbikes. The company plans to install two ten-kilowatt solar charging stations. Pic credit: Eunice Kilonzo

In East Africa, Pfoofy Power & Light Ltd, a Kenyan renewable energy company, has developed a solar charged electric motorbike, an engineering innovation that could significantly change transportation, reported the Daily Nation on Monday.

The company has also set up a solar-charging station to address the demand for motorbike transport, famously known as bodaboda, in Kenya’s South Nyakach-Kisumu County.

According to the Daily Nation, in what resembles the US techpreneur Elon Musk’s electric car company, Tesla Motors, the local Nairobi-based firm aspires to revolutionising transport by cutting over-reliance on fossil fuels.

Unlike Tesla Motors whose charging systems rely on electricity from the national grid, Pfoofy Power is tapping into solar energy to drive the revolution.

The innovation therefore has the potential to transform rural transport in ways never seen before.

Solar charging stations                   

Charles Ogingo, one of the co-founders of Pfoofy, said plans are underway to install two 10 kilowatt solar charging stations, which will be used to charge 40 motorbikes.

Ogingo said: “Electricity is not available to everyone. Therefore, solar energy is viable in Kenya.

“These solar-powered bikes can ride for 60 km before switching to reserve fuel and their next recharge. Therefore they can get fully charged batteries from the stations at only Sh200 ($1.96).”

Ogingo, a University of Nairobi mechanical engineering graduate, explained that a bodaboda is rented out for Sh300 ($2.95) per day and the company has already trained nearly 40 motorbike drivers.

Solar entrepreneurship

The company, focused on providing ‘smart and affordable energy to off-grid populations, featured their solution on Sunday during the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.

Ogingo said: “I have seen the daily challenges that farmers face in bringing their produce to market. This cheaper, safer and more sustainable bodaboda is changing how people conduct business.”

Other exhibitors at the summit included Mibawa Suppliers Limited who offer a weekly or monthly rechargeable household solar system using a scratch card similar to mobile phone airtime credit cards.

Power Africa solar winner

Pfoofy is one of the companies that won last year’s Power Africa Off-grid Energy Challenge grant to expand their businesses.

Each of the winners received about Sh10 million ($98.2k).

Power Africa’s regional programme director Tom Coogan said: “The funding allows these entrepreneurs to make better their ideas which were hindered due to lack of funds. Watch out for great products from these great Kenyans.”




Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
Nicolette is the Editor of ESI Africa print journal, ESI-Africa.com and the annual African Power & Energy Elites. She is passionate about placing African countries on the international stage and is driven by the motto "The only way to predict the future is to create it". Join her in creating a sustainable future through articles and multimedia content.