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Clean Transport

Basigo Secures $6.6 Million In New Funding To Start Commercial Delivery Of Electric Buses In Kenya

After a very successful 6-month pilot program, BasiGo, an e-mobility company bringing the future of clean, electric public transport to sub-Saharan Africa, is now moving swiftly to the commercial operations phase. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the company offers electric buses along with charging and maintenance services for public service bus operators. BasiGo makes electric buses affordable to operators through an innovative financing model called “Pay-As-You-Drive” which makes the upfront cost of their electric bus competitive with diesel buses.

Here is a summary of BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive:

  • A single daily subscription fee charged per km driven
  • Billed and paid directly between the operator and BasiGo.
  • Includes nightly charging of the battery.
  • Includes all standard service and maintenance for the bus
  • Free battery replacement in the event of any battery issue.
  • Includes dedicated customer care, roadside assistance, free software upgrades, and more.

Operators can buy the BYD K6 bus for about KSh 5 million ($46,000) and then pay KSh20 per km on the pay-as-you-drive model for battery and associated services ($0.18). With recent increases in Kenya’s fuel prices, Nairobi bus operators are currently paying an estimated KES 30-50 ($0.25-$42) per kilometer for diesel fuel alone. This makes BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive model very appealing for Kenyan public transport operators.

Building on this progress, BasiGo has announced $6.6 million in new funding led by Mobility54, the corporate venture capital arm of Toyota Tsusho; Trucks VC, a transportation-focused venture capital fund in Silicon Valley; and Novastar Ventures, a global VC supporting entrepreneurs transforming markets in Africa. The round also includes investment from Moxxie Ventures, My Climate Journey (MCJ), Susquehanna Foundation, Keiki Capital, and OnCapital. The new round brings BasiGo’s total funding in 2022 to $10.9 million and will enable the company to begin commercial delivery of locally manufactured electric buses and charging infrastructure through the company’s unique Pay-As-You-Drive financing model.

“BasiGo is thrilled to have the backing of investors who are leaders in the automotive sector and climate finance,” said Jit Bhattacharya, CEO of BasiGo. “Over 90% of Kenya’s electricity already comes from renewables. Yet Kenya’s transport sector relies entirely on imported petroleum fuels. By electrifying Kenya’s public transport, we can make an immediate dent in climate emissions, clean up the air in our cities, and give bus owners relief from the rising cost of diesel. With this new funding, BasiGo is ready to bring the benefits of state-of-the-art electric transport to all people in Africa.”

Kenya’s public transport sector is home to over 100,000 privately-owned buses and minibuses, often referred to as matatus. BasiGo’s electric buses have driven over 110,000 kilometers and carried over 140,000 passengers as part of fleet operations with two Nairobi bus operators: Citi Hoppa and East Shuttle. BasiGo has already received over 100 reservations from customers, and recently announced partnerships with KCB Bank and Family Bank to provide up to 90% financing to owners for purchase of an electric bus.

“We strongly believe in the potential of electric buses in Africa,” Takeshi Watanabe, CEO of Mobility54, said in a statement. “BasiGo’s strong capability to implement the concept and its cutting-edge technology is the key to transforming conventional diesel buses to environmentally-friendly electric buses. We are extremely excited to build a solid partnership with BasiGo, and to support their growth by fully leveraging the business assets under Toyota Tsusho and CFAO.”

“At Trucks, we back entrepreneurs building the future of transportation.  We invested in BasiGo because their Pay-As-You-Drive platform is the key to electrifying and modernising the massive informal public transport market in Africa,” commented Jeff Schox, General Partner of Trucks VC.

BasiGo’s next 15 electric buses will be delivered in January 2023 and will enter operation with many of Nairobi’s largest bus operators. BasiGo is already deploying high-power, DC fast-charging stations at strategic locations across Nairobi to support this expanded fleet. The company reports that all buses delivered in 2023 will be locally assembled in Kenya, and aims to have over 1,000 electric buses deployed in Kenya by the end of 2025.

Sapna Shah, Partner with Novastar Ventures, shared: “BasiGo has grown in leaps and bounds since Novastar’s initial investment in February 2022 – a hugely successful 6-month electric bus pilot, 100+ electric bus reservations from Nairobi’s leading public bus operators, local financing agreements with leading Kenyan banks, commercial order and production of 15+ electric buses and a strengthened team. We are excited to continue partnering with the exceptional team at BasiGo as they enter this next growth phase and welcome new investors, especially Mobility54 and Trucks VC, to this exciting journey.”

BasiGo has been using the BYD K6 electric minibus, which has seating capacity of around 20 or so passengers and is a candidate to slot in perfectly into Kenya’s Matatu ecosystem where 14- to 35-seater minibuses play a major role in providing transport services for urban commutes in Kenya. It’s really great to see that they are now scaling their operations and are looking to deploy 1000 buses by 2025. Recently someone noted that the money Kenya spent on fossil fuel subsidies over the last couple of years could have been used for more long term solutions such as purchasing 28,000 of the electric mini buses. Petroleum products contribute a significant portion of Kenya’s annual import bill. Petroleum products imported by Kenya increased by 12.0% to 6.4 million tonnes in 2021, costing the country a whopping $3 billion! Accelerating the penetration of these electric buses will go a long way in reducing diesel consumption in Kenya’s transport sector.

Kenya’s total installed capacity of electricity increased to around 3,000 MW in 2021 from 2,836.7 MW in 2020. Peak demand is close to 2,200 MW. However, in the off-peak night time, demand drops to around 1,200 MW. This means that the power company has some excess capacity at night leading to the venting of geothermal steam. In March of this year, Kenya Power acting CEO Rosemary Oduor said “Kenya Power can supply electricity to charge 50,000 buses and two million motorcycles during off-peak hours.” The time has come now for Kenya to electrify the Matatu industry, powered by locally generated renewable energy.

Images courtesy of Basigo

 
 
 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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