Over the last couple of years, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has gained popularity in African cities as a cost-effective and efficient mode of public transportation.
BRT systems in African cities have been developed with the aim of providing quality, affordable, and reliable public transport services to residents.
Some of the African cities that have implemented BRT systems include Lagos, Johannesburg, Accra, and Dar es Salaam – and soon, Nairobi will be joining them with a better proposition, which will also include an electric bus element for sustainability reasons.
The development follows a EUR 347.6 million (approximately KES 50B) financing agreement between the Kenyan government and the European Commission. According to the statement, the funds will be used for the construction of the initial and exclusive lane for electric buses in East Africa.
During a meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, an agreement was made between President William Ruto and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen over the issuance of the funds for the building of the electrified BRT system in the region.
“Kenya is a good partner for the EU in Africa. The EU and Kenya are jointly tackling some of today’s biggest global challenges such as the fight against climate change and we are close allies when it comes to defending the international rules based order. The EU strongly appreciates Kenya’s support to the freedom and independence of the Ukrainian people,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
President Ruto insisted on Kenya’s dedication to transitioning towards a more environmentally-friendly approach, as outlined in the nation’s climate change mitigation strategy.
The upcoming Green Mobility-Nairobi BRT 3 will incorporate electric buses with zero emissions, along with advanced transportation system capabilities, reasonable pricing for tickets, inclusivity for disadvantaged groups such as youth and low-income households, and measures to ensure passenger safety.
The signing was also attended by Kipchumba Murkomen, the Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport, and the European Commissioner for International Partnerships.
Kenya has been at the forefront of electrifying mass transport systems, at least in Nairobi, and in Africa at large. While it is far from reaching the levels of the US, China, and other first-world countries, Kenya has been fairly accommodating to electric vehicle companies that are eyeing to put their fleet on the road for the majority of public transport users.
However, Nairobi’s public transportation system has not kept up with the same pace of development. Over the past decade, the European Union (EU) has provided technical support to Kenya’s transportation industry. As a result, the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority (NaMATA) was established as a government agency to oversee the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in partnership with the EU. The Kenyan government also engaged in talks with the informal bus sector, known as matatus, to adopt the BRT system with the help of EU/Team Europe technical support.
Recently, a month after the first EU-Kenya Business Forum and the EU-Kenya Strategic Dialogue held in Nairobi on 21-22 February, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening their partnership under Global Gateway. The partnership is aimed at promoting sustainable investments that align with the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
Companies such as Roam and BasiGo have since partnered with known Matatu Saccos to offer this service.
BasiGo, for instance, has more than 20 buses plying different routes in the city. Roam, on its hand, has limited, but bigger buses, as well as electric motorbikes that can be purchased across the country.