Tech

Here Are The Two Startups Behind Kenya’s Lead In Electric Buses

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electric buses

The future of vehicles is electric, and for public transport in Kenya, we are in the future. Nairobi is becoming the pioneer in all-electric buses transportation in Africa, two startups now at the forefront. Needless to say, sustainable and low-emission public transport options have been long overdue.

OpiBus

OpiBus is a Swedish-Kenyan electric mobility company that started back in 2017. The company began with fitting normal petrol and diesel engines with electric motors and battery packs. Just late last year, they raised $7.5 million (KES 835 million). This was the highest raise done by an electric mobility company in Sub-Saharan Africa. Huge! The results? The first all-electric bus production in Africa.

Not more than two weeks ago, OpiBus introduced their first locally designed and developed electric bus. I don’t know what exactly I expected, but the design of the bus is not it. However, for using local engineering talent and manufacturing partners, I give a pass. I will take mobility in any form factor as long as it is electric.

electric buses

Image Courtesy: OpiBus

BasiGo

BasiGo, is a Nairobi-based electric vehicle (EV) and a finance company that was launched in November of 2021. It is reported that they have raised $1m(KES 113 million) in pre-seed funding, for use towards deploying electric buses on Kenyan roads.

Unlike with OpiBus, BasiGo is importing fully-built buses from BYD Auto, a global producer of electric buses. Through collaboration with PSV operators in Nairobi, they are testing out two buses in a pilot program before importing more.

Image Courtesy: BasiGo

Affordability

The proprietary electric buses from OpiBus greatly reduce production expenses for them. Utilization of local talent and manufacturing is wise, spending less for superior performance. On their end, BasiGo have an easier financing option for bus operators who will want to buy from them. The subscription-based model, ‘pay-as-you-drive’, will allow bus owners to pay as per the kilometers driven each day.

Additionally, maintenance costs go lower with electric buses. There are no combustion engines or oil gaskets that need constant change and fixing. The cost of charging the buses is significantly cheaper, compared to the ever-rising fuel prices. Therefore, passengers are likely to benefit from reduced transport charges.

OpiBus plans the commercial deployment of 10 buses in Kenya during the second half of 2022. BasiGo is as well planning to make available 1,000 electric buses for purchase by bus operators over the next five years.

This is all amid the Kenyan government’s efforts to have 5% of all newly registered vehicles to be electric by 2025.

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