Efforts to make Nairobi a green mobility capital have received a boost as BasiGo, the first company to introduce electric buses into Kenya, received $6.6 million in new funding round.
The new round brings BaisGo’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.
The funding round was led by Autotech investors namely 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 capital.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BasiGo, Jit Bhattacharya said the backing of investors who are in the automotive sector is a boost to their goal of manufacturing vehicles that don’t depend on fossil fuels, reducing emissions to the environment.
“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. BasiGo is thrilled to have the backing of investors who are leaders in the automotive sector and climate finance,” said Mr Bhattacharya.
The BasiGo CEO added, “Over 90% of Kenya’s electricity already comes from renewables. Yet Kenya’s transport sector relies entirely on imported petroleum fuels. 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.
According to the BasiGo website, the electric buses fleet operation with Citi Hoppa and East Shuttle has seen the electric buses being driven over 110,000 kilometers and carrying over 140,000 passengers.
The firm has also 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 the purchase of an electric bus.
CEO of Mobility54 said in a statement Takeshi Watanabe said the firm is rooting for the adoption of electric buses in Africa.
“BasiGo’s strong capability to implement the concept and its cutting-edge technology is the key to transforming conventional diesel buses into 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,” he said
However, the high upfront cost is said to be the limiting factor that makes the adoption of this modern-age transport in Africa.
The firm says that BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive model will make the buses affordable to people who want to purchase them.
“Operators then pay BasiGo a KES 20 ($0.17) per kilometer subscription fee which includes leasing of the E-Bus battery, charging at BasiGo charge stations, and comprehensive service and maintenance provided by BasiGo. 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,” the firm stated.
General Partner of Trucks VC, Jeff Schox said electric buses will modernize Africa’s transport sector.
“At Trucks, we back entrepreneurs building the future of transportation,” said Mr Schox.
BasiGo’s next 15 electric buses will be delivered in January 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.
Another latest development towards green transport is the partnership between battery swapping technology specialist STIMA, vehicle financier Mogo, a part of Eleving Group, and ride hailing company Bolt to deepen the adoption of electric motorcycles in the country.