The first electric bus from Swedish-Kenyan EV technology company Opibus is being tested on Nairobi’s roads in readiness for the commercial launch of EV buses in Kenya later this year, and across Africa by the end of 2023.

Opibus has over the last five years been building electric motorbikes and converting existing gasoline and diesel vehicles to electric. So far is has converted more than 170 vehicles for applications ranging from mining to tourism.

The company is now moving to building new EV buses and charging infrastructure. Opibus chief strategy and marketing officer Albin Wilson says, “This first year, we will be testing 10 buses commercially in Nairobi to ensure that the product fits and is optimised for the usage patterns. Once we get this valuable feedback, we will make the required changes and get all our production partners lined up to scale the roll out as rapidly as possible.”

Opibus’ proprietary electric vehicle platform is modular and can be the foundation for several types of vehicles. This enables the creation of a bus that is suitable for the African use case in its reliability, durability, and price point. This also means local and global contract manufacturers can be used to create a globally competitive product, with a rapid scale-up.

In an approach that sounds similar to Arrival’s microfactory concept, Opibus says local production means that the output can be tailored for local market needs. “We are building a product that allows for a rapid scale up, that can leverage global and local manufacturers. Meaning our design is easily implemented across the African continent, as it is a product tailored for the use case, and very cost effective,” said Wilson.

Opibus says it is already looking to develop partnerships that will drive the adoption of EVs across the continent.