Roam has announced the milestone launch of the first-ever electric, public mass transit bus operation in Nairobi. The 1-year pilot project aims to address the unique challenges of public transport by providing a reliable, sustainable, efficient, and modern mass transit solution.
The transport sector is one of the major contributors to Kenya’s greenhouse gas emissions. 18% of Kenya’s total greenhouse gas emissions are from the transport sector. About 40% of CO2 emissions are from the transport sector. Respiratory system diseases are some of the leading causes of morbidity, at 25% of all disease incidences in Kenya. In a bid to reduce emissions, Kenya’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) aims to abate 32% of greengouse gas emissions (GHG) relative to the business as usual scenario of 143 MtCO2eq. Accelerating the adoption of electric mobility will be critical to achieving this.
Kenya is already taking some action to catalyze the transition to electric mobility, backed by some progressive policies. The National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (NEECS) of 2020 seeks to increase the penetration of electric vehicles to at least 5% of all vehicles imported annually by 2025. The Energy Act of 2019, the Finance Act of 2019, The National Climate Change Action Plan (NCAAP) 2018 -2022, and the Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan 2016-2030 are some of the key policy initiatives helping to create an enabling environment.
Kenya’s total electricity generation rose by 7.0% to 12,414.7 GWh in 2021. The good news is that 89.6% of this electricity was generated from renewable sources! With a very green grid, having zero tailpipe emission electric vehicles will go a long way in improving air quality in Kenya’s urban centers. The introduction of high capacity electric buses is one of the best ways to catalyze the provision of safe, reliable, clean, sustainable, and efficient transport for the commuting public.
One of the leaders in electric mobility on the African continent is Roam motors. Today, Roam announced the milestone launch of the first-ever electric, public mass transit bus operation in Nairobi. The one-year pilot project aims to address the unique challenges of public transport by providing a reliable, sustainable, efficient, and modern mass transit solution. The learnings gathered during this period will be put towards scaling up production and operations in the near future.
The Roam Rapid, which has a carrying capacity of 77 passengers, is set to operate on the Thika Superhighway, Mombasa Road, and Waiyaki Way as the initial routes, which are some of the busiest routes in Nairobi. The bus is currently running its operations from Fire Station Lane in the Central Business District to Juja. Fares will be at par with what other bus operators in the industry currently charge.
Here are some specs of the Roam Rapid:
Roam Mass Transit Specifications:
- Battery capacity: 384 kWh
- Range: 360 km
- Dimensions (LxHxW): 12500x3300x2550 mm
- Top speed: 70 km/h
- Seat capacity: 77 passengers
- Weight: 18,000 kg
- Fastest Charging time: 2 h
- DC fast charging
- Air conditioning for extra comfort
- Low-floor entry with kneeling ability for easy to access
- Wide doors with wheelchair ramp
- Extra legroom space for comfort
- Four priority seats for elder or people with disabilities
- Three large double doors
This launch is the first step in Roam’s vision to see city streets paved with hundreds of electric buses by 2023. Initially, the target is the Nairobi Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) tender, which will see the deployment of 100 buses onto Kenyan roads. In February 2022, the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NaMATA) floated tenders for an international competitive bid for the leasing of 100 clean energy propulsion BRT buses for Phase 1 operations.
The Roam Rapid bus has a 384 kWh battery, giving a range of 360 km on a single charge in the urban cycle. This is significant, as the bus can run full-day operations without a top-up charge, depending on the operator’s schedule. Two DC 180kW chargers have already been fitted at Roam’s warehouse to cater to full charges and top-ups. More DC chargers will be added in the very near future.
Dennis Wakaba, Project Coordinator at Roam, says, “At Roam, we aim to guarantee access to comfortable, equitable and reliable public transport to shift the masses to electric public transport in Nairobi.”
Several key stakeholders were present at launch, including representatives from Kenya Power, the national power utility company. Kenya Power’s Managing Director (Ag) Eng. Geoffrey Muli was represented by the General Manager, Commercial Sales and Services, Eng. Rosemary Odour. Kenya Power has set up a Liaison Office to provide investors with a seamless experience. Through this office, Kenya Power works with stakeholders such as Roam to support the development of the electric mobility ecosystem.
Eng. Odour said, “It is clear that when it comes to electric mobility, Kenya means business. It is therefore no wonder that the local and international investors are putting their money into this market. Banks are also setting up special credit lines to support the sector, which itself is an endorsement of the promise held by the e-mobility business.”
Electric buses require far less servicing compared to their diesel counterparts. Due to increased fuel prices, switching to electric also reduces operational costs by up to 50%. This ensures operations are maximized and maintenance costs are reduced for bus operators.
Roam says that these cost savings from the operators’ side can then be passed on to the everyday commuter, ensuring affordable and cost-friendly rides. As the Siemens Stiftung’s “Testing E-Mobility Business Models at WE Hub Victoria Limited in Kenya” field report says, “Mobility is the basis for the overall development of a society: it gives the population access to jobs, markets, social facilities, and health care. In addition, mobility itself creates jobs.”
Access to reliable and affordable transport services can be a major growth driver for many countries on the African continent, where currently the majority of the population lack access to reliable transport services. Increasing access to mass transit services, and in particular, cleaner transport services such as high capacity electric buses, will be a key enabler for economic development. The penetration of electric high capacity buses is growing around the world It’s good to these high capacity bus programs are now starting in this part of the world.
Images courtesy of Roam, Kenya Power
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