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4 Nairobi Bus Operators Now Using Electric Buses!

The transition to electric mobility is well underway in a lot of places around the world. Electric buses are some of the major contributors. It’s always good to hear about the progress in the electric bus space. Shenzhen China is perhaps the most well known for a fast transition to an electric bus fleet. Electric bus fleets are are also getting some traction in the United Kingdom, mainland Europe, Australia, South America, and other places.

In another exciting development — this time in Kenya — one of Nairobi’s top public transportation providers, Embassava Sacco, has announced the introduction of four electric buses to its fleet in collaboration with BasiGo. Embassava Sacco is a Nairobi-based Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (Sacco). In Kenya, a lot of Saccos leverage their members’ contributions to invest in business ventures such as the operation of public service vehicles like mini buses. Mini buses are popularly known as Matatus in Kenya. Embassava Sacco took delivery of 4 BYD K6 electric buses. The BYD K6 has a range of about 250 km.

Embassava Sacco has become the 4th Nairobi bus operator to adopt electric buses, which is a significant milestone. BasiGo began supplying electric buses to bus operators last year after a successful 6-month pilot program. The fact that 4 bus operators have already adopted electric buses in such a short time is an outstanding achievement. It shows that confidence in the new technology is growing in the local sector. It is also a perfect illustration of what can be achieved in such a short time with the right business model and commitment. Innovative business models such as BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive model are showing just how the transition to electric mobility in the public service vehicle industry can be catalyzed on the continent.

BasiGo’s Pay-as-You-Drive allows owners to purchase the K6 electric bus without having to pay for the expensive battery technology. This makes the upfront cost similar to a traditional diesel bus. Owners can access their unique Pay-As-You-Drive battery subscription service, which covers everything related to the battery, including charging, warranty, service, and maintenance. Operators are charged daily based on kilometers driven, and operators make payments directly to BasiGo. In return, the operator has complete peace of mind in owning an electric bus throughout its life.

Benefits of Pay-As-You-Drive:

  • A simple daily fee based on kilometers driven.
  • Digital billing & payments directly between operator & BasiGo.
  • Subscription 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.

Embassava Sacco’s new buses have 26 seats and started operating last week. They will be driving Donholm CBD and Nyayo Estate CBD routes. Commenting about the new electric buses, Benson Wanyoike, Chairman of Embassava Sacco, said: “This is a tremendous milestone we have taken as a sacco, and our aim is to be able to service our clients better. We would also like to congratulate BasiGo for leading this shift in the transportation industry.”

Speaking at the handover of the electric buses, Jit Bhattacharya, CEO of BasiGo, said, “We are  thrilled to welcome Embassava as the first SACCO driving the transition to electric public transport in Kenya. The economic benefit of these electric buses will benefit the SACCO members collectively rather than individually. With these buses, we are also helping Embassava Sacco provide cashless payment options to their passengers. We are committed to collaborating with PSV Operators to implement technology that will improve everyone’s access to cleaner, greener, and more convenient public transportation. Prior to the handover, we have trained over 20 Embassava staff on Customer etiquette, Safety and Emergency response, Eco driving, Cashless payment management amongst other technical skills. We are also proud to have trained Victoria Kaloki who will be Kenya’s first female electric bus driver.”

BasiGo’s electric buses have driven over 265,000 kilometers and carried over 340,000 passengers as part of fleet operations with 4 Nairobi bus operators since launching in Kenya in March 2022. BasiGo plans to supply over 1,000 locally manufactured mass transit electric buses to transport operators in Kenya over the next three years.

Looking at the past three years, an average of 938 Matatus were registered in Kenya per year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2023 Economic Survey. Assuming BasiGo’s plan of supplying 1,000 electric Matatus within the next three years is evenly spread out and the number of Matatus registered per year remains in the same range as observed from 2020 to 2022, that would mean that 35.5% of Matatus registered each year will be electric! This will be a major milestone along the country’s transition to electric mobility. It also shows how quickly things can move in this sector, and by 2030, all new registrations of Matatus could very well be electric.

A fast transition to electric mobility will be good for Kenya. Kenya has an installed electricity generation capacity of 3,321 MW. Peak demand is 2,132 MW. It has a low overnight off-peak demand of 1,100 MW. The adoption of electric mobility can help boost demand during the off-peak periods overnight, enhancing revenue generation for the electricity company as well as optimizing the utilization of renewables such as geothermal and wind.

Imports of fossil fuels are also a major burden, and the adoption of a critical mass of electric vehicles can help displace some of these petrol and diesel imports, saving the country quite a significant amount of foreign currency. Of course, the environmental and health benefits will also be a big deal. 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 its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) aims to abate 32% of greenhouse 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. It is really great to see all of these developments in Kenya’s electric bus sector.

Images courtesy of BasiGo

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