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The School of Law, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Exploring the Potential of Minibus Electrification in Three African Cities

EP-2019-MAC-04, Edna Odhiambo, Lecturer



In African cities the majority of people use minibus systems as their main mode of motorized transit. Minibuses are essential for mobility and access and are the core of public transit systems. There is, nonetheless, a need to support minibus businesses and upgrade their services to respond more effectively to equity, public health and climate concerns. Improving minibus services can help retain transit users and de-incentivize ownership and reliance on private cars. However, minibuses are often themselves second-hand and poorly maintained, use dirty fuels, and also contribute to a growing and serious air pollution problem in the local environment (Prozzi, Naude and Sperling 2002). The air pollution problem disproportionately impacts workers in the sector, the walking poor and transit passengers, constituting a major, under-addressed social and environmental justice problem (Ngo et al. 2015).

Most approaches to addressing this problem involve either a focus on cleaner fuels, or replacement of minibus systems by bigger, cleaner buses. This project explores whether minibus electrification is an additional viable policy option. We will conduct a comparative study of existing transport electrification policy, regulation and pilots in Nairobi, Cape Town and Cairo. The study will draw on mixed methods including systematic reviews of policy and regulatory environments, and case studies of minibus electrification efforts including Opi-Bus in Nairobi, a planned minibus electrification pilot project in Cape Town and Revolta’s electric charging network roll-out as well as APTA and Mwasalat Misr’s EBus operations trials in Cairo. We will conduct focus group discussions with operators and drivers, as well as interviews with policy makers and private sector actors in both electric vehicle-producing companies and green finance houses. Finally, we will create a very basic cost/benefit model for minibus electrification.

Edna Odhiambo is a climate change lawyer with a decade of experience in securing sustainability. She has contributed to mainstreaming climate change in several policy and regulatory frameworks including transport, energy, finance, agriculture, and planning.

She has several publications with her most recent examining multi-level governance on active mobility in Nairobi. Her love for

public speaking has seen her deliver numerous presentations on climate governance and sustainable cities.

She lectures at the University of Nairobi, School of Law and also serves as the Country Lead, Kenya for the Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).

See also Interview with Edna Odhiambo - January 2021 Newsletter

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