Kenya’s Producing Its First Electric Buses — 1,000 Buses Over 3 Years

The transition to electric mobility is happening faster than previously thought. Electric buses are a key way to increase access to more sustainable transport for the majority, especially in developing countries. Electric buses combined with the right business models can usher in a new era in Africa’s mass transport sector and also catalyze the manufacturing sector, helping to create much-needed employment opportunities. With the right business model, this can happen very quickly.

Kenya’s BasiGo is a perfect example of what can happen quickly with the right models and commitment. Established in May 2021, BasiGo has moved rapidly from concept to pilot projects to validate its business model to seal major partnerships with multiple banks in Kenya, and has now announced a partnership with Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) in Mombasa to assemble the first 1,000 electric buses in Mombasa, Kenya, over the next 3 years. This new partnership will build on the original agreement where, in January 2023, AVA successfully completed the final assembly of fifteen 25-seater electric buses which were supplied partially assembled by BasiGo and are now set to start operations with Nairobi matatu operators in the coming months.

BasiGo and AVA aim to manufacture over 1,000 electric buses in the next 3 years, creating over 300 new manufacturing jobs and another 300 jobs in the charging, maintenance and financing ecosystem required to support electric buses in operation. Since its launch in March 2022, BasiGo’s electric buses have covered over 141,000 kilometers and carried over 185,000 passengers as part of fleet operations with two Nairobi bus operators, East Shuttle and Citi Hoppa.

BasiGo makes electric buses affordable for operators through an innovative financing model called “Pay-As-You-Drive”, which makes the upfront price of its electric bus competitive with diesel buses. Here is an overview of BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive:

  • A single daily subscription is 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 of the bus
  • Free battery replacement in case of battery problems
  • Includes dedicated customer care, roadside assistance, free software upgrades and more

AVA is East Africa’s leading multi-brand vehicle assembler with a rich automotive engineering heritage since 1975. Based in Mombasa, Kenya, the company is one of the most diverse vehicle assembly plants in the world, offering body building, boat building, supply chain solutions, and specialty vehicle transformation.

Commenting on the partnership, BasiGo CEO Jit Bhattacharya said: “BasiGo is committed to providing electric buses that are 100% assembled in Kenya. We are delighted to partner with AVA, the country’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles, which has years of expertise in assembly in the country. We are confident that this partnership will put Kenya on the map as a leader in manufacturing modern electric vehicles.”

Moses Nderitu, Chief Revenue Officer of BasiGo, added: “With AVA’s decades of experience and certified manufacturing processes, we will provide high-quality electric buses to PSV operators in the region. Together, BasiGo and AVA make Kenya a leader in manufacturing advanced electric vehicles, a segment that is destined to grow rapidly in the coming years.”

BasiGo’s innovative Pay-As-You-Drive model lowers the entry barriers for bus operators to get brand new electric buses, and it also lowers their operating and maintenance costs. This is a beautiful model that I would like to see scaled up and adopted in more African countries soon. BasiGo is transforming the electric mobility sector and I look forward to seeing it expand its operations even further in line with its vision to bring the future of clean, electric public transport to sub-Saharan Africa.

Image from AVA




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