Safe battery storage container built in and for Africa

Some governments in sub-Saharan Africa have started to announce electrification targets for vehicles and incentives for EV adoption—such as Rwanda’s announced tax exemptions for EV sales. Moreover, a growing start-up ecosystem for EVs, focusing particularly on electric two-wheelers, is emerging in the region. While momentum is building, sub-Saharan Africa faces some unique challenges in its electric mobility transition, including, unreliable electricity supply (McKinsey, 2022). Moreover, in Africa, safe battery storage containers are getting imported from China, attracting high importing and transporting costs.

Can an open-source safe battery storage container for electric two-wheelers be developed which is built and designed in Africa while economically feasible throughout sub-Saharan Africa?

Ebee Mobility Kenya in collaboration with Battery Control Europe aims to hand in an innovation proposal leveraging new technology to minimize the cost and improve the quality of safe battery storage in sub-Saharan Africa. A safe battery storage container designed for the growing electric two-wheeler sector in Africa. However, the success of any new technology is defined by its adoption.

Comment below: What are the key elements or must-haves to develop a safe battery storage container for electric two-wheelers and adoption of this new Fintech solution by consumers in rural and urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa?

The following Open Source technical deliverables will be released:
-Lithium-ion container. The goal of the lithium-ion container is to contain a lithium-ion incident. The container is likely be destroyed in the process.
-Pressure release system. Needed to relieve the potential explosive pressure of a lithium-ion incident.
-Detection system. CO/Smoke/Heat (at least one, possible to combine).
-Notification system. Visual and audio for people on site. Plus perhaps connectivity to fire or security services.
-Electric system. Suitable for charging, balancing, and automatic shut-off. This can be done with a mechanical system or with a software system.
-Fire services hose coupling. To flood the container with water in case of fire. Required to douse the fire.
-Solar panels. To be sustainable and have power in case of a power outage.
-Climate control unit. To keep the container and batteries within the normal operating temperature range. This goes for low-end as well as high-end temperatures.
-Insulation. Required to prevent condensation from the climate control unit as well as extreme temperatures within the container.


Interesting. Can the container be reused, repurposed, or recycled after its destruction?
Does the container only contain 1 battery to avoid the risk of damaging other batteries in case of an incident, or will it contain several batteries while minimising the damage of other batteries?

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Good idea! Is there need for digitalize it in a way that users and potential users know (via App) where the next storage facility is/ the facility needs land acquisition or rent of space to calculated in / how is the ownership model planned?

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@Ebee @Paul any thoughts on juergen question.

@Paul, Thanks for your question.

To clarify, the idea is to have a 10-20 ft storage container for large quantities.

Can the container be reused, repurposed, or recycled after its destruction? This depends on the severity of the incident and the damage done to the container. In some incidents, a battery only fizzles or has a jet flame. In contrast, in more severe incidents, a battery could overcharge and violently explode and ignite other batteries, causing them to burst into flames and flash as well. In the latter incident, the container is often destroyed, while in less severe incidents, the container might be reusable after being cleaned thoroughly and safely (proper PPE).

For the second part of the question, the goal of the container is to minimize the damage to the surroundings, e.g., a service center, factory, or transport depot. The product is, therefore, not explicitly designed to limit the damage to batteries. A container should be rated up to a certain gross weight of batteries; it is up to the user if they wish to store multiple batteries or, e.g., one heavy vehicle battery pack in the container.

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@juergen Thanks for your question.

Sharing key measurements with users is important in maintaining and preventing damage in severe events.

A temperature sensor, smoke detector, CO detector, and possibly a thermal imager or a combination thereof will be linked to a reporting system, informing a control room and/or person (the user) when certain predetermined values are reached.

Depending on the user’s demand, specific values are related to necessary maintenance actions; these values will be set and communicated to the users through digital and/or push messages. This will guarantee safety and enables convenient monitoring of the system.

Viewing real-time values is rare in the sector and is often seen as costly and unnecessary.

Ownership model:
It is an open-source solution. Different ownership models are possible: lease, co-ownership, subscription, and more. Users could be safety companies, governments, e-waste recycling companies, insurance companies, e-motor bike companies, e-bike companies, mini-grid companies, etc.

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I am a Director from a South African based e-bike company called Green Riders, and we think this is an exciting idea! It could be a game changer for the e-battery sector.

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Interesting idea, but how would the container design be different in the local economy (speaking of Kenya/Africa) compared to the international available safe battery storage containers? Is it not more efficient to import a current solution ? certain high-tech components need to be imported anyway?

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Thanks, @Rick; we believe in the South African market!

Warren, thank you for your reply and question. The design contains materials that must be imported, such as air conditioning, (fire-resistant) insulation, an alarm panel, and an extinguishing system.

The materials from abroad come as a complete package that needs to be for a significant part assembled locally with local materials where necessary, decreasing the transportation cost: reducing the weight and size of the package.

Correct assembly is essential; therefore, the package contains an installation manual with optional online support. Assembly by the local workforce favors local employment, local ownership, building regional business relations, procuring local materials, and transferring expertise.

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ok, that makes sense

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We’re developing a highly portable 48V battery pack for the lightweight, off-road EV market. We’re looking at a similar, containerised solution. It’ll be crowd funded in the NY, so it might be worth having a discussion. Our idea is to also allow discharged battery packs to be returned to the container and for fully charged packs to be collected. Payment is to be based on a cryto-token PAYGO system.

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Thanks for your message. That is very interesting, i have send you a private message to discuss further.

great idea! as electrical mobility keeps on growing in Sub-Saharan Africa, the need for safe and reliable battery storage containers will grow in relevance. Some questions:

  1. Will the container be able to withstand the harsh and varying weather conditions found in sub-Saharan Africa? What kind of material will it be made of? Another important thing to consider is the mechanical durability as there are often rough and bumpy roads.
  2. What will be the security measures? Storing highly-valuable materials can be a potential source of theft which could pose serious risks to the operation.
  3. Regarding affordability, will the container be fully manufactured in Sub-saharan Africa? Can all materials be sourced from within Africa?
  4. Why only for two-wheelers and not include all types of transportation methods?

@EBK1960 can you respond to Leoncio’s query ?


Firstly, my apologies for the late response! I’ve been away working on another aspect of the Battery Store Project.
Answer to your questions below:

  1. The Zip Battery Store container will be fitted out to ‘NATO’ standard in terms of build quality/durability with the ability to operate in both Artic as well as SSA climates.
  2. There are two aspects to consider here. Obviously, the local community needs to take 'ownership ’ of the Zip Battery Store containerised solution as it’ll enhance their capabilities to introduce cold-chain/last mile mobility services. There are physical security and also secure elements (SE) being designed in to both the Zip Battery Store container and each individual battery pack, respectively.
  3. It is being designed and will initially be manufactured in Western Europe. The goal is to have an east African (post pilot) assembly location ready around mid 2025. The most likely location for assembly is Mombasa. Eventually, it’ll be manufactured and distributed under open source license across all East Africa.
  4. The ZipSwarm Battery can be used to power both two and four-wheelers of our own design. We’ll open source these designs at a later date, post completion of mobility pilot operations.

Eventually ZipSwarm battery ‘drop-in’ kits will power EV conversions, e.g. Land Rover Defenders for the European market. However, there is also an opportunity in the fast growing African EV conversion market.

I hope that is helpful and clears up any uncertainty?

Regards Ed

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Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve responded to Leonicio.


Interesting post,
Well aligned with the needs of an industry which will require more batteries standardisation if willing to make their products last longer, reduce waste and improve interoperability; as battery swapping on 2 wheels mobility is becoming each day more important for competing with ICE mobility.

Some software aspects we are researching at Solaris Offgrid are:

  • Battery ID for interoperability (swapping cross-stations)
  • Offline OpenPAYGO Metrics compatibility (reducing the need of an GSM IoT module in each battery pack, relying on users phone and swapping stations connection to the internet)
  • Interoperable battery geo-location (key for developing an open battery swap ecosystem)
  • Route planning API standard for battery swap stations ecosystem
  • Battery power & data connection standard (wired/wireless)
  • Charging stations battery handshake and data upload using OpenPAYGO Metrics
  • Charging station rotational Packs charging (unstable power source scenario)

Together with the hardware that has been described in this post, I can imagine a disruptive technology pack that can open the battery ecosystem on this market.

Thanks for posting eBee