Innovation That Matters

In order to introduce of a modern, effective and sustainable public transport system, NaMATA has also advertised a tender for the design and construction of dedicated BRT facilities | Photo source NaMATA

Nairobi develops green public transport

Mobility & Transport

A new mass transit programme in Nairobi, Kenya will use exclusively electric, hybrid, and biodiesel vehicles

Spotted: It is all too easy to think of the EV revolution as primarily a developed-world movement. But a large number of less-developed countries are also seeing the advantages in skipping over petroleum-based infrastructure and heading straight to cheaper and more efficient EV mass transit. Kenya is one of these countries. At the moment, there is scant uptake of electric vehicles in the East African nation, and almost all of these are private. But that is about to change.

The Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NaMATA) has recently announced that its new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network will be exclusively operated by green vehicles. NaMATA has invited dealers and manufacturers to present bids for the sale or lease of electric, hybrid, and biodiesel buses for use on the BRT network. The aim of the network is to ease congestion in the city – BRT vehicles will have dedicated lanes, making them faster than the already existing fossil-fuel buses.

Some locally-developed electric buses may be among the first to be used for the BRT. EV start-ups Opibus and BasiGo are beginning pilot schemes now, with an eye to bidding on the BRT contract. The 51-seater Opibuses have a 120 kilometre range and will cost around $100,000; while the smaller BasiGo buses have a range of 250 kilometres and use parts sourced from China’s BYD Automotive.

In all, the BRT will involve around 100 buses. According to Francis Gitau, the chief executive of NaMATA, the buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi and coffee service and passengers will use electronic cards to pay for the services. “The aim is to introduce a reliable and efficient mass transit system that will attract even those using private vehicles,” explained Mr. Gitau. This is an important consideration, as according to a Blomberg report, the extreme traffic in Nairobi is thought to cost the country’s economy up to $1 billion a year in lost productivity.

At Springwise, we have covered all type of electric vehicle technologies. Innovations in this space often focus on technological improvements, such as new charging systems and new designs for zero emission vehicles. However, advancements that make it easier and cheaper for people to use EVs—like supporting a home-grown EV industry in Kenya—could end up making just as big an impact.

Our recent deep dive into United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11, highlighted the importance of clean public transport in delivering sustainable cities and communities.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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