BasiGo, an e-bus company, has set up a charging station in Nairobi, becoming the first connected through the new e-mobility tariff. Its electric buses replace imported diesel with clean power, fostering the growth of the EV industry.

Electric mobility is slowly taking shape in the Kenyan market, particularly in Nairobi. Several electric vehicle companies have set up shops in the country, led by BasiGo and ROAM Mobility. 

BasiGo, as its name suggests (Basi is a Swahili name for bus), is taking electric mobility to the masses who use public transport in Nairobi. ROAM has a similar business model, but has other products, such as electric motorcycles. Companies like Hummingbird, have taken a different approach in the sector, by partnering with the hospitality industry to offer electric vehicles for their customers.

While these developments have been made over the last couple of years, Kenyans have always wanted to know how the companies plan to roll out charging stations for their vehicles. Charging stations can influence and facilitate EV adoption. The availability of charging stations is a key factor influencing consumers’ decisions to switch to electric vehicles. By installing charging infrastructure in new markets, it becomes more convenient for people to charge their EVs, alleviating range anxiety and making EV ownership more practical and accessible.

Now, BasiGo has launched the first publicly available fast-charging station for its fleet of electric buses in Kenya. Located in Nairobi’s Buru Buru area, the facility is the first one linked to the nation’s e-mobility tariff approved by the Energy & Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) in 2023. The tariffs offer affordable electricity for charging electric vehicles during nighttime in Kenya, taking advantage of the surplus of renewable energy available during those hours. In the past three years, around 90% of the electricity supplied to the grid has been generated from renewable sources like hydro, geothermal, solar, and wind. During the off-peak hours at night, this percentage increases to 100%, indicating that the grid is entirely powered by clean energy during most of that time.

“Thanks to the support of Kenya Power in establishing the E-mobility tariff, we can invest in infrastructure like this charging station and enable the rapid growth of the electric vehicle industry in Kenya,” BasiGo CEO Jit Bhattacharya said.

The station can charge six buses simultaneously, but by the end of the year, it will be upgraded to accommodate up to 25 vehicles. With the addition of this new station, BasiGo now operates three charging stations, collectively capable of charging more than 20 electric buses. This latest station will be the dedicated charging location for electric buses operated by OMA Sacco and Embassava Sacco.

Each electric bus the company deploys and charges replaces the consumption of 20,000 litres per year of imported diesel with 50 MWh of clean, renewable electricity generated locally in Kenya. The introduction of the e-mobility tariff enables investments in infrastructure like this charging station, fostering the rapid growth of the electric vehicle industry in Kenya.

According to Dr. (Eng.) Joseph Siror, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Kenya Power, says the transportation sector in Kenya contributes to 67% of all emissions in the energy sector and 12% of national emissions. These emissions are projected to rise to 17% by 2030. Supporting the growth of the E-mobility sector is crucial in combating this trend. Kenya, as the largest economy in the region and a leader in clean energy, has the opportunity to become the launch pad for the rest of the continent in the development of the electric vehicle industry.

BasiGo has plans to make its charging stations accessible to the public for charging electric cars and trucks by the end of 2023. It also intends to deploy similar charging stations throughout Nairobi and eventually across the country. These efforts aim to facilitate the deployment of 1,000 electric buses to Nairobi bus operators within the next three years.

The state is also in the process of building robust facilities for e-mobility. Kenya Power, for instance, is currently engaging a consultant to assist in developing an E-mobility Network Infrastructure System (ENIS). ENIS aims to pilot electric vehicle charging stations, serving the company’s internal needs and demonstration purposes. Kenya Power has also allocated KES 40 million ($290,000) to buy three electric cars and build three electric vehicle-charging points in Nairobi. The company aims to replace its 2,000 vehicles powered by fossil fuels in the next four years. This transition will involve retrofitting electric engines onto current vehicles and acquiring new electric cars.

Kenn Abuya Senior Reporter

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