In partnership with AC Mobility, BasiGo aims to launch electric buses in Kigali by October 2023. Operators will not be required to pay full price for the buses.
Electric bus company BasiGo has expanded its services to Rwanda, making the country its second base after operating in Kenya for about two years. The startup’s goal in Rwanda remains the same—revolutionising public transport systems by introducing electric vehicles. BasiGo plans to launch in partnership with AC Mobility, which provides automated fare-collection systems for public transport. The plan is to introduce electric buses in Kigali by October 2023, in collaboration with three bus operators: Kigali Bus Service, Royal Express, and Volcano Express. BasiGo employed a similar approach in Kenya, where it partnered with Matatu companies like Super Metro, resulting in 19 electric buses currently operating in Nairobi, with over 100 others reserved for the future.
Speaking on the coming launch, Jones Kizihira, CEO of AC Mobility Rwanda, said, “We are excited to partner with BasiGo to drive Rwanda’s public bus electrification. The country has recorded rapid transformation, creating a need for a more robust and cost-effective public transport system. The electric buses will help ease the cost burden of public bus transporters and advance Rwanda’s transition to clean mobility.”
According to Jit Bhattachary, BasiGo’s CEO, the startup chose to expand to Rwanda because the country “has led the way in creating an enabling environment for e-mobility.” He told TechCabal, “The country has indicated strong interest in transitioning their public transport fleet to electric. Also, 58% of Rwanda’s electricity comes from renewables. There is greater near-term impact on climate emissions from electrifying public transport in markets like Kenya and Rwanda where the buses are recharged primarily from renewable energy.”
The role of AC Mobility in the expansion
According to BasiGo’s CEO, AC Mobility is a technology player for Rwandan public transport operators. Its fare collection systems are widely used on city buses in Kigali. Through the partnership with BasiGo, bus operators will benefit from a seamless experience covering fare collection and e-Bus operations. “AC Mobility’s fare collection systems are present on the vast majority of city buses operating in Kigali,” Jit Bhattachary explained to TechCabal.
The pay-as-you-drive model reduces upfront costs
As in Kenya, the previously mentioned bus operators collaborating with BasiGo will purchase e-buses from the firm using the pay-as-you-drive model. While a fully decked-out BasiGo electric bus can be costly, customers have the option to purchase one without a battery at a reduced price. The pay-as-you-drive subscription covers the battery lease and includes benefits such as complimentary charging at BasiGo’s charging stations and free service and maintenance. In Kenya, the K6 electric bus is available at an upfront cost of $35,600, with a pay-as-you-drive subscription of $0.14 per kilometre.
“Our mission is to create the future of clean, electric public transport across Africa. We see a great opportunity in Rwanda for our business model to unlock the potential of e-buses in Rwanda and help the country accelerate their transition to sustainable and inclusive public transport,” added Bhattachary.
No expansion plans beyond Kenya and Rwanda – for now
BasiGo has no plans to expand beyond these two markets for now. It plans to deliver 100 additional buses in Kenya and others in its new market. “Our focus right now is on scaling the best possible e-bus solution for our clients in Kenya and Rwanda, from passengers who board our buses to the operators who rely on them every day to run their business. What you should expect is more buses to hit the road in both markets,” said the CEO.
BasiGo raised almost $11 million in 2022. Three months after launching operations in Kenya, it secured $4.3 million in seed funding. Novastar Ventures took the lead in that funding round and was joined by a mix of investors from Silicon Valley, both existing and new. Some notable participants included Moxxie Ventures, Nimble Partners, Spring Ventures, Climate Capital, and Third Derivative. The $4.3 million funding included $930,000 raised during the pre-seed round in late 2021. In November 2022, BasiGo secured $6.6 million in equity funding. This funding round was jointly led by Novastar, a prominent Africa-focused VC firm, alongside Mobility54, the corporate venture capital arm of Toyota Tsusho, and Trucks.vc, a Silicon Valley-based VC firm focused on supporting startups in the transport sector.
The e-mobility landscape in Rwanda
Rwanda is one of the African countries that has initiated incentives to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles. Fiscal measures include capping electricity tariffs for charging stations at the industrial rate, making charging more affordable. EVs, spare parts, batteries, and charging station equipment are exempt from import and excise duties, receive zero-rated VAT treatment, and are exempt from withholding tax, further supporting the transition towards sustainable transportation.BasiGo now joins KABISA, a Rwandwese startup that aims to tackle existing barriers in the auto sector with a comprehensive electric vehicle ecosystem. Its mission is to enhance accessibility to environmentally friendly transportation. KABISA sells and leases electric vehicles and is establishing a public charging network. It plans to launch an electric vehicle maintenance garage in Kigali.