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IZI Electric, a pioneer in e-mobility launches its fleet of electric buses in Kigali

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IZI Rwanda, a pioneer in e-mobility, has delivered five electric buses to Kigali which will be trialled in the fleets of Kigali Bus Services (KBS) and other local operators, in a pilot project aimed at the electrification of public transport in Kigali for a fraction of previous cost estimates.

Kigali’s population has grown 50% since 2013, while the number of operational buses has decreased significantly. This decline is largely attributed to rising diesel costs and capped ticket prices, which in many cases drive a requirement for 80% occupancy just to cover fuel costs.  As Public Transport Operators (PTOs) fleets have shrunk, some commuters often endure waits of up to two hours, impacting their quality of life and productivity. Additionally, vehicle emissions account for 13% of Rwanda’s greenhouse gas emissions, necessitating an urgent shift to clean transport.

The Government of Rwanda has implemented numerous progressive policy initiatives to drive electrification of public transport, but PTOs have been wary of purchasing electric vehicles because of the high initial capex, unknown resale value and absence of local maintenance facilities. In response, IZI has launched its e-mobility-as-a-service model to overcome these challenges and provide a frictionless way to migrate bus fleets of all sizes to electric. For low per kilometre fee, bus operators can enjoy IZI’s innovative ‘Pay As You Go’ service and are provided access to: a fully electric vehicle, the required charging infrastructure, full vehicle servicing and training. In short without any upfront cost transport providers can realise an average 40% saving on operational costs, transforming their profitability, and allowing them to meet the needs of a rapidly growing urban population.

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A key enabler of IZI’s low-cost solution is a proprietary platform that significantly extends the life of EV batteries, thus lowering overall vehicle costs by extending their useful lifespan. The IZI Connect fleet management system, which currently manages more than 9,000 vehicles in China, monitors the battery health and supports predictive maintenance which is facilitated by a Battery Laboratory for on-site battery cell repair and replacement.

The IZI Battery Laboratory will be the first facility of its kind in Africa, and beyond supporting the IZI fleet, this state-of-the-art lab will extend service to third-party EV users, offering localized battery analysis, repair, and maintenance services. Strategically located in Kigali, the lab is poised to be a significant driver of specialized job creation and accelerate the adoption and growth of EVs across Rwanda and the broader East African region.

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Charles Ngarambe, CEO of Kigali Bus Services (one of the largest public transport operators in Rwanda) commented “We believe the IZI model service can be transformative to the profitability of our business and drive our expansion”.

IZI has received orders for over 200 buses to be deployed in Rwanda over the course of 2024. Alex Wilson, IZI Chief Executive Officer commented ‘We are delighted to be able to contribute to the Rwandan Governments progressive target of electrifying 20% of their public transport network by 2030. Kigali faces the same challenges as many other rapidly growing African cities and the Rwandan Government’s progressive policy initiatives and investment incentives electrification ambitions and support make Rwanda it an ideal country to pilot IZI’s pioneering e-mobility model.’

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James Musoba
James Musoba
Studying Africa's startup and technology scene. I always look forward to discovering new exciting inventions and vibrant entrepreneurs.

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