Firms raise cash to drive use of electric vehicles 


Opibus engineers (from left) Lucy Mugula, Beatrice Wanjiru and Esther Wairimu working on an electric motorbike on August 2, 2021.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Opibus and BasiGo with offices in Nairobi target buses, motorcycles and matatus.
  • Opibus was founded as a research project at one of Sweden’s top technical universities.

Eco-friendly engine converter Opibus has raised Sh834.37 million ($7.5 million) in equity and grant funding to scale up production of electric motorcycle and buses in Kenya from next year.

At the same time, BasiGo, an e-mobility startup headquartered in Nairobi, yesterday announced its entry into the Kenyan market.

The firm will provide electric buses offering a more environmentally sustainable solution that’s also cheaper to maintain than the available diesel buses. BasiGo has raised Sh100 million in funding for the venture.

Opibus financing was led by Silicon Valley fund At One Venture with support from Factor(e) Ventures and Ambo Ventures consisting of Sh556.25 million ($5 million) equity and Sh278.1 million ($2.5 million) grants.

Opibus with Nairobi as its African head office converts diesel and petrol engines into electric motors, reducing costs and carbon dioxide emissions, which are major contributors to urban air pollution.

“We’re proud to be backed by globally recognised investors providing a balance between deep-tech and emerging market expertise. 

Electric mobility

“We’ve together reached a clear strategic and visionary alignment [convinced] that mass manufacture of electric mobility solutions in Africa will not only make the products more accessible and affordable, but will also lead to one of the largest industrialisation and welfare transitions of the region in modern time,” Opibus co-founder and CEO Filip Gardler said.

This comes as the world meets in Glasgow to try and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change mostly caused by carbon emissions.

“For years, diesel-powered buses have been the only viable solution for [Kenyan] operators. We’re excited to provide public transport operators with a new option: state-of-the-art electric buses that are more affordable, more reliable, and reduce bus operator exposure to the rising cost of diesel fuel,” Mr Jit Bhattacharya, CEO and BasiGo co-founder said yesterday.

Opibus was founded as a research project at one of Sweden’s top technical universities with a mission to implement electric mobility in emerging markets. 

It chose Kenya as the location for the headquarters as it’s the fastest growing nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya also has a growing number of used vehicle imports, making electric conversions sensible.