Advantages of Electric Buses Work in Kenya

An image of an electric bus operated by Roam Rapid in Nairobi CBD on January 16, 2023..jpg
A photo of an electric bus operated by Roam Rapid in Nairobi CBD on January 16, 2023.

Kenya embraced Electric buses under the BasiGo and Roam Motors companies. So far, there are more than 1000 Electric buses in Kenya and at least 2000 motorcycles.

Speaking during an interview with Inooro TV on Saturday, January 21, BasiGo Chairman Sam Kamunya, announced that the buses are more advantageous than diesel and petrol vehicles because they don’t emit smoke and have no annoying sound.

He further explained how cheap it was to operate the buses compared to the existing Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) in the country.

“Electric cars use an estimate of Ksh1,000 to Ksh1,500 on full battery but for petrol or diesel will use Ksh7,000 to Ksh8000 on a full tank,” he noted.

A collage image of electric vehicles being charged.
A collage image of electric vehicles being charged.

According to the head of technical at BasiGo, Francis Njoroge, the buses use lithium-ion batteries which are good for their power density and safety.

“The vehicles have six modules and a charging port, they also have direct current to alternating current converter,” he stated.

The driver is also able to see the whole cabin through installed cameras. He has a dashboard to show power consumption just like a phone shows in percentage.

“They have no gear but use a button to move forward or backward,” Njoroge added.

In Kenya there are charging stations at; TRM, Sarit Centre, Holly Family Basilica, Karen Hub and other spots that are still being established.

There are various stages that one can access the operational buses within the Nairobi metropolis. 

According to BasiGo, the buses feature 250 km of range and a recharge time of fewer than four hours. The importance of these buses are;

•    Zero emissions and diesel free

•    More reliable and lower cost than diesel

•    Convenient charging along routes

•    Real-time data for tracking operations

•    Premium passenger coach with synthetic leather seats, silent drive, TV, WiFi, and individual USB charge points.

Through the Draft 2023 Budget Policy Statement released on Wednesday, January 18,President William Ruto committed to providing financial and tax incentives for public service vehicles and commercial transporters to convert to electric vehicles.

Electric Motorcycles

Roam Motors chairperson, Joan Igamba stated that an electric motorcycle costs Ksh180,000. Kenya owns the frame but imports other parts from China and India.

“You can charge the batteries from the comfort of your home like your phone. It takes four to five hours to fully charge. It uses 200 electric units,” she uttered.

The motorcycle can cover 90KM on one full battery and cover 180KM.

Newly launched electric motorcycles in Kenya
Newly launched electric motorcycles in Kenya.
Capital Group

There is a warranty of eight years on batteries for the vehicles and 15 years for motorcycles.

Roam Motors developed two different types of fully electric buses adapted to the African use case: the mass transit bus and the feeder bus. 

“Our feeder bus is aimed at the Matatu market while our electric mass transit bus ensures reliability and accessibility to large-scale transit systems across the African continent,” Roam Motors reported.

The vehicle owner can then use the operational savings to pay off the remaining cost in less than four years without extracting money from current profits. This model is flexible and can be tailored to fit any request from clients.

The ten years ownership graph includes the operational costs as well as the approximated investment cost. This highlights the financial benefits of an electric bus,” they added.

On November 29, 2022, Kenya received a fleet of electric buses at the port of Mombasa marking the largest shipment of electric-powered buses to arrive in the country.