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BasiGo Wins Global Startup Award, Gains $1.5M USAID Grant for Rwanda Launch

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BasiGo, a Nairobi-based startup, is poised to revolutionize the public transportation sector in Rwanda with a substantial grant of $1.5 million from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures. This significant boost in funding comes as Africa grapples with the challenge of catering to its rapidly growing urban population, projected to exceed 1.3 billion people by 2050.

Diesel buses currently account for almost 60 percent of all passenger trips in African cities, contributing to toxic air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In response to this environmental crisis, Kenya’s BasiGo introduced zero-emission 26-seat and 36-seat electric buses in the Kenyan public transportation market. As of June 2023, BasiGo has 19 electric buses in operation, all managed through pay-as-you-drive mileage-based leases with private sector partners.

With the support of USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, BasiGo is set to expand its eco-friendly transportation initiative to Kigali, Rwanda. The grant will enable BasiGo to pilot leasing arrangements with some of Rwanda’s largest bus operators, demonstrating the cost-efficiency and viability of electric buses in the country. The pilot program will also facilitate BasiGo’s quest for additional external financing, conduct in-depth market research involving riders and operators, assess profitability, and implement an urban pollution monitoring system. This comprehensive approach aims to determine whether BasiGo’s electric bus fleet can significantly reduce pollution levels in the city.

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“Kigali currently faces a substantial transportation challenge, with 300-400 buses serving 120,000 round-trip passengers daily while demand for 700 buses remains unmet. BasiGo’s ambitious goal is to bridge this gap by introducing 200 zero-emission electric buses to Kigali’s streets by 2025. This expansion aligns with the company’s commitment to providing sustainable, efficient, and environmentally-friendly public transportation solutions,” USAID noted.

BasiGo’s innovative approach to public transportation, featuring electric buses and flexible leasing options, holds the promise of not only meeting the increasing demand for urban mobility in Rwanda but also significantly contributing to the reduction of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby addressing pressing environmental concerns in the region. With the support of USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, BasiGo is well-positioned to drive a positive change in the public transportation landscape of Rwanda, setting an example for sustainable mobility solutions across Africa.

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This exciting development follows BasiGo’s recent triumph at the Global Startup Awards (GSA) Africa Summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event brought together tech visionaries and innovators from across the continent and recognized BasiGo as the leader in the Mobility and Logistics category. The company was celebrated for its groundbreaking work in electrifying public transport while championing environmental sustainability.

The GSA Africa Summit, in collaboration with the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG), the Ethiopian Ministry of Labour and Skills, and the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, with support from the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of Ethiopia, selected BasiGo as one of the 16 overall African category winners.

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BasiGo’s innovative business model features its Pay-As-You-Drive financing solutions, which aim to make electric buses widely accessible by mitigating the prohibitive upfront costs often associated with e-bus ownership. This approach promises to revolutionize public transportation and actively contribute to the fight against climate change, a pressing issue for Africa.

Moses Ndiritu, BasiGo’s Chief Revenue Officer, shared his ambitious vision at the summit, which is to deploy 1,000 electric buses across East Africa within the next three years. He expressed profound gratitude for the recognition, which validates the company’s efforts to facilitate a significant transition in Africa’s public transport sector.

The GSA Africa Summit attracted a competitive field of 2,682 entries from the region, with a total of 8,200 entries overall for GSA Africa. A rigorous selection process culminated in BasiGo’s recognition, offering a well-rounded perspective of Africa’s tech ecosystem.

Jo Griffiths and Caitlin Nash, co-founders of GSA Africa and GIIG, emphasized the significance of platforms like the summit in elevating African innovation, fostering collaborative transformations, and supporting young leaders and innovators who are poised to shape the continent’s future.

Dr. Belete Molla Getahun, Minister of Innovation and Technology, and Muferihat Kamil, Minister of Labour and Skills, also conveyed messages of encouragement to the summit’s attendees. They spoke of a shared African ambition to create a new narrative for the continent, defined by equity, humanity, innovation, and economic vitality.

In addition to the accolades received, winners of the summit, including BasiGo, will have the exclusive opportunity to engage with GIIG, the competition’s dedicated investment partner. The GIIG Africa Fund and Foundation aim to discover, fund, and grow African solutions to challenges with global relevance.

The GSA Africa Summit not only celebrated current successes but also provided a platform for future collaborations. Alongside key partners such as UNICEF, UNDP, and various Ethiopian institutions, the event set the stage for the continent’s emerging startups, founders, and communities to leverage Africa’s growing influence on the global stage.

As the Global Startup Awards Africa Summit drew to a close, the message was clear: Africa’s time is now, and its innovators, like BasiGo, are ready to drive the continent toward a future of innovation and sustainable development.

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Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu is a Tech enthusiast, happy to delve deeper into the African tech space covering Social Media, AI, Startups, Telcos, Cryptocurrency, Big Data, Women in Tech and all matters Tech. Write to me @[email protected]

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