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Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Set their Eyes on Nairobi’s Mass Transport Sector

BasiGo, a mobility startup racing to electrify the city’s buses and Swedish-Kenyan electric vehicle manufacturer Roam are rolling out fleets of buses this year that could mark the start of a new chapter for the city’s famous matatu culture. BasiGo started by importing two 25-seat buses from Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD and began a pilot scheme in March 2022. In the coming weeks, 15 more buses will hit the streets. These vehicles have been imported as kits, which are being constructed in the coastal city of Mombasa, creating jobs and reducing taxes. Rather than operate its fleet, BasiGo is selling buses directly to Nairobi’s private operators through a “pay-as-you-drive” scheme. Roam is making plans of its own. The electric mobility startup formerly known as Opibus, an Earthshot Prize finalist in 2022, has two separate bus models designed for Nairobi’s needs. The Roam Rapid can seat up to 90 people, has a range of over 360 kilometers and is designed to carry passengers along major corridors and on routes such as airport transfers. The bus has undergone four pilot schemes and is currently being trialled on Thika Road, a major highway in the capital.