BasiGo, an e-mobility startup headquartered in Nairobi, has on 2nd November 2021 officially announced its entry into the Kenyan market. The company will provide electric buses for purchase by public transport providers, offering them a more environmentally sustainable solution that is also cheaper to maintain than current diesel buses. Their operations will initially target the public transport ecosystem in Nairobi, with the company looking to eventually launch their services in other East African countries. The company is sourcing buses from BYD Automotive, the largest manufacturer of electric buses globally, and plans to locally assemble buses in Kenya. BasiGo has already raised KES 100 million in funding and the company’s first electric buses will be arriving in Kenya later this year, at which point the company will begin pilot testing with Nairobi-based bus operators.
Buses and matatus remain one of the primary modes of transport in African cities. But diesel engines are also a major source of urban air pollution, which the WHO now identifies as one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, and greenhouse gases emissions contributing to climate change. By comparison, electric buses in Kenya would produce 95% less CO2e emissions since most of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources such as hydropower and geothermal. Electric buses would also offer transport providers reprieve from the cost of diesel which has risen sharply in the last few months.
“For years, diesel-powered buses have been the only viable solution for bus operators in Kenya. We are excited to provide public transport operators with a new option: state-of-the-art electric buses that are more affordable, more reliable, and reduce bus operator exposure to the rising cost of diesel fuel. The cost of electric bus technology has come down dramatically over the last 10 years, to the point where electric buses can offer significant savings compared to fossil-fuel buses. Our goal is to help bus owners in Kenya realize these savings, and in the process, help Kenya become a global leader in sustainable public transport, ” said Jit Bhattacharya, CEO and Co-Founder at BasiGo.
BasiGo will offer buses with 25 and 36 seat capacities and a targeted range of over 250 km, allowing transport providers to complete a full day’s operations before returning to a BasiGo charging depot at night for recharging and maintenance. The greatest concern with any electric vehicle for Africa is the high upfront cost. However, when costs of fuel and maintenance are included, EVs can be more affordable than fossil-fuel vehicles over their lifetime, especially for high-mileage applications such as buses. To reduce the upfront cost of their electric buses, BasiGo is launching an innovative, “Pay-As-You-Go” battery financing model. Through this model, BasiGo offers electric buses at an equivalent upfront cost to diesel buses, while then financing the battery and charging through a separate usage-based subscription fee. BasiGo’s subscription fee will be competitive with what bus operators are currently paying for fuel and maintenance.
Alex Mwaura, COO at BasiGo added, “Kenya is unique in that we have a surplus of renewable energy which can be taken advantage of by the public transport sector to make it more sustainable going forward. Nairobi’s transportation sector is evolving rapidly, and we look forward to partnering with the government and relevant agencies to grow the infrastructure for electrified public transit. Overall, the environmental and health benefits to Kenya will lead to a more productive workforce and help grow the economy as a whole.”