On August, Kenya welcomed its first ever full electric mobility service after EkoRent, a leading Finnish electric mobility company operating under the local name EkoRent Africa, launched Nopia Ride.
Business Insider SSA caught up with EkoRent founder and CEO, Juha Suojanen, and had a small chat with him about why electric cars are the future and how Nopia ride is a game changer as we enjoyed a quiet clean smooth ride onboard one of the Nopia rides.
Here are nine electrifying facts about the man who ushered East Africa biggest economy into the era of clean energy and transport system, Juha Suojanen.
#1. He is happily married to Pippa and together they have a small army
Juha is happily married to Pippa and together they have three daughters; Heini Hanna and Jonna. The couple have also been blessed with four grandkids; Lilja, Venla, Pihla and Miksu.
Miksu is the fourth grandchild and the only boy.
He loves hiking with his wife in Finland's national forest called Repovesi where they do about 25km (easily doable with slow pace).
He plans to bring along the girls next summer and camp in the forest overnight since they will be old enough.
#2. His first car was a Honda civic, current car is Nissan leaf and his dream car is a Tesla Model S
Juha says the Nissan leaf is a great car and Kenyans facial expression when they first tried it was beautiful but Tesla is the next level.
“I mean when you look at Kenyan’s face when they try out the Nissan leaf for the first time it is beautiful and they are amazed and that’s fantastic I was the same when I first drove it too but Tesla is the next level,
I have had a chance to try out Tesla Model S and its nothing that you can imagine in a car, big screens it’s automatic and does almost everything for you so it’s not like driving a car experience anymore it’s something else, that my number one car,”
#3. He is a sucker for Darude music especially 'Sandstorm'
Juha listens to finish music a lot and a bit of HipHop too but his all-time classic song is 'Sandstorm' by Darude.
“My classic song of all time has to the Story of 'Sandstorm' by Darude which I love the song and it kinda puts you in a good mood, it’s very energetic and I think it would have fit well with our Nopia ride launch,
My wife actually is the one who controls the playlist at our house (laughs)”
#4. When he is not working he loves going off grind in a remote summer cottage close to a beautiful lake
Unfortunately I am always working because I have these two companies that needs my time but when I am not working I love to go to nature and relax, this summer I took a one week and we went to our summer cottage where I got to spend some quality time with three of my grandkids, we went fishing and it was really fun,”
#5. He would love to take Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on a smooth ride on the Nopia Ride
The Ekorent CEO says It would be a nice experience to ride with President Uhuru Kenyatta inside the Nopia ride and the two of them talk about how electric cars can change our society for the better and hopefully the government can formulate friendly policies to make it easier for investors like him to make it in East Africa’s biggest economy.
His ultimate travel companion however, is Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
“Many people talk about Steve Jobs and he was fanstastic but he pretty much dealt with electric gadgets like iphones and so on wonderful products but if you start looking at Tesla CEO background he started his first business when he was something like 12yrs old, he did some programming made up a game and then sold it and went on and started another business dealing with payment systems which he sold it again before venturing into electric vehicles business and now he is also into the space industry. So I think this guy who moves from industry to industry and doesn’t stop anywhere and actually has plans to colonise Mars would make a very interesting travel companion, this is the guy I would like to talk to inside our Nopia ride,”
#6. He loves Kenya but the growing inequality between the rich and the poor puts him off
One thing Juha admires about Kenya is its 2017 decision to ban plastic bags and he believes it is something African countries should emulate. That said he believe a lot can still be done especially in trash collection and recycling of plastic and glass bottles.
“What I don’t like about Kenya is your society is very unequal if I am a complete tourist I can stay in shopping malls such as Two Rivers and think okay it’s so clean and people are doing so well here but when you drive through the City which i did with Ken (EkoRent country director) we also went to parts that are not doing so well coming from Scandinavia where societies are more equal and you don’t see people living on the streets and not making any money and have to beg for food that struck me as not right ,”
#7. He would love to bring his grandkids on a Kenyan safari adventure
“Yes! I would love to bring my grandkids not necessarily to Maasai Mara which I have been to before but something similar to that and show them the wild animals that exist here in Kenya. Last time I was in Maasai Mara I was like just two metres away from a pride of lions, on the last day of our Safari it was just our tour vehicle when we stopped and looked at seven lions which were resting next to our vehicle, we were busy photographing them and then suddenly they rose up and moved away and we were wondering what is happening little did we know there was a bunch of about fifteen elephants that was just behind our vehicle and it felt like the earth was shaking and that is why the lions had moved away, that is the image of Maasai Mara that has remained with me until today it was something like a Moment straight from Natural Geographic, It was such an incredible moment and I would like my Grandkids to see and experience something like that,”
#8 His recommends everyone to read his favourite book - Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
“If you wanna know Tesla CEO you should buy his book and read it, to me it was a mind opener about what this guy has done and achieved, you know his company Tesla was just one day away from bankruptcy and while he was struggling to get the finance people kept telling him that he won't make it but he got it in the last hour and saved his company which is now a huge company worth billions of dollars, same thing happened when he started his space programme people kept telling him it’s not gonna work but look at him now NASA is actually buying from him, that’s one book I am gonna recommend to anyone,”
#9. He loves fish and Indian spicy food and drinks Tusker and Finish local beers
Juha’s favorite food is grilled Salmon but he also likes Indian spicy food.
“At home we do a lot of barbecues but these days we do more fish may be because I am getting older but I think my body too likes fish more because it is lighter to eat, it is also more environmental friendly food.”
After the Nopia Ride launch in Kenya, Juha went and enjoyed a cold Tusker.
“Ken and I went and had a few cold beers, whenever I am in Kenya I always have Tusker and back at home I enjoy some local beers,”