• Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Kenya starts production of Africa’s first all-electric bus

Kenya starts production of Africa’s first all-electric bus

Kenya has announced the start of production of an electric bus that will enter service in Nairobi by the end of 2023.

With contracts already signed, last February, Roam Motors (formerly Opibus) says the production of electric bus kicking off in September offers comfortable sitting position for up to 90 passengers and is equipped with a 384-kWh battery pack that should enable a range of 360 kilometres.

According to Roam Motors (formerly Opibus), the bus has a top speed of 70 km/h, and the battery can be fully charged in less than two hours via DC charging ports.

With contracts already signed last February, Roam Motors says the buses will be assembled locally in collaboration with local partners, while some of the manufacturing processes will be carried out elsewhere in the region.

Dennis Wakaba, Roam Motors’ project coordinator, suggested that the manufacture of green buses will also create new jobs in the transport sector regionally.

“Roam Rapid offers a solution for the growing number of cities implementing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems across Africa and is the first of its kind in Kenya. The bus is designed not only to increase comfort, but also reduce operating costs and improve air quality,” explains Wakaba.

Roam also announced the signing of a large-scale supply agreement with African financing platform M-Kopa for its electric motorbikes. The fintech company provides loans and digital financial services to unbanked consumers in Africa.

Read also: Kia Motors to unveil all-electric EV9 car in 2023

The supply agreement with Roam will allow the company to sell electric motorbikes on credit, lowering customers’ barriers to entry through affordable payment plans. Deliveries of the electric motorbikes for distribution through M-Kopa are scheduled for the end of 2022.

Mikael Gånge, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Roam, said, “This agreement is an incredible trigger for electric motorcycle adoption in emerging markets and validates our vision of releasing a locally designed product that exceeds the experience of traditional fossil fuel motorcycles for a similar price.”

When explaining why the focus was put on electric motorbikes, he explained, “We want to provide a compelling environmental and economical solution for markets that haven’t been part of the electric vehicle transition yet.”

Gånge adds, “We believe the motorcycle taxi industry is one of the most impactful areas to start, given the growing market size and importance for low-income earners not only in Africa but globally. Our partnership with M-KOPA will drive us both towards our shared vision of cleaner mobility.”

Stakeholders say these public transport vehicles, which cost 20 Kenyan shillings (18 cents) a day, provide transport in Eastlands (Mbotela and Maringo) in the south-east of the capital, as well as in the city centre and at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Roam Motors raised $7.5 million in equity and grant funding late last year to help it scale its operations, and it has now rolled out its first electric bus in Kenya as the first major step in its plan to provide a locally designed and developed electric bus that can be mass-produced for the pan-African market by the end of 2023.