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Kenyan Startup Finalist for UK Earthshot Prize


A worker assembles an electric motorbike at the Roam Motors headquarters and workshop in Nairobi, Kenya on November 29, 2022.

Prince William and his wife, Catherine, are in the U.S. state of Massachusetts for three days of public engagements before announcing the Earthshot prize winners, a competition seeking solutions to climate change and other environmental problems by 2030.

One finalist hoping to take home the top prize is Kenyan startup, Roam Motors, a company that has come up with an effective and cost-friendly way to curb air pollution in Kenya.

Joan Igamba, communications specialist at Roam, says the company noticed the air pollution problem in Nairobi and decided to make electric motorcycles to curb the problem.

"Even though these motorcycles help us navigate the fragmented transportation system here in Kenya, they really do increase the air pollution levels in the city," she said.

"So, with our solution, the Roam Air electric motorcycle, it is a fully electric motorcycle with a removable battery, which can be charged any outlet where you charge your phone."

The electric motorcycles run on two rechargeable batteries, that can be charged at any charging point in about four hours.

Electric motorbikes seen at the Roam Motors headquarters and workshop in Nairobi, Kenya on November 29, 2022.
Electric motorbikes seen at the Roam Motors headquarters and workshop in Nairobi, Kenya on November 29, 2022.

Each battery can drive for around 90 kilometers, meaning both batteries, when fully charged, can travel for about 180 kilometers.

The bike ranges from $1,550 upwards depending on the client's demands.

Igamba says around 20,000 motorbikes are imported into the country every month, continuing to add to the problem.

"How we see the future here at Roam is thousands of electric motorcycles on our roads eliminating fossil fuel driven motorcycles and moving into this new future for the continent and the country," she said.

The first Earthshot Prizes were awarded last year in London just before the U.K. hosted the United Nations COP26 climate conference.

Earthshot offers one million pounds ($1.2 million) in prize money to the winners of five separate categories: nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination and climate change.

The winners and all 15 finalists also receive help in expanding their projects to meet global demand.

Igamba says winning the prize would be an honor, it would also help the startup expand.

"Winning the Earthshot Prize would really be such a dream come true because we will be able to ramp up production, expand to other markets other than Kenya, and be able to really build on this electric revolution happening in Africa today," she said.

The 2022 Earthshot Prize winners will be announced Friday at a star-studded event in Boston, Massachusetts. The show will be co-hosted by the BBC's Clara Amfo and American actor and producer Daniel Dae Kim.

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