NASHUA, New Hampshire — Opibus is a Swedish-African electric mobility company that has gained millions of dollars in investments worldwide. Kenya was the first country to host Opibus vehicles, which are used vehicles that Opibus converts to electric. Opibus and other electric vehicles could provide significant benefits in many ways. For example, electric vehicle technology could specifically benefit those in poverty in Kenya and other developing African nations.
The Benefits of Electric Vehicle Technology for Low-Income People
Vehicle ownership is one of the most expensive costs for families, especially with the maintenance costs that apply to each vehicle. A study by the International Council on Clean Transportation claims that electric vehicles are a long-term, cheaper alternative to other motor vehicles. Electric vehicles can reduce costs of vehicle purchase, maintenance and fuel costs. Unfortunately, more affluent households have been the main ones to obtain electric vehicles. However, Opibus is determined to increase electric vehicle expansion in all areas of Kenya. The fact that it makes its cars from used ones dramatically reduces the cost.
Not to mention, projections have determined that 80% of the world’s vehicles sales will be electric by 2050. Initiating the production of electric vehicles now could allow nations in Africa to be ahead of the game in terms of modern technology, especially when the companies producing such vehicles are African themselves.
How Opibus Works
Opibus started off as a research project at a Swedish university in 2017. Since then, the company has begun developing and producing electric vehicle technology in Kenya. Kenya was a suitable nation to produce Opibus products, 92% of its energy sources were from renewables as of 2020. The creation of this commercial electric bus is new in comparison to the traditional motorcycles that the company manufactured. Opibus predicts that its electric bus will be available for mass production towards the end of 2023. The buses are most helpful for tourism activities, from which Kenya receives much of its profits. The motorcycles and other two- or three-wheeled vehicles are helpful for families, who benefit from cheaper options of electric vehicles compared to four-wheeled cars.
The Economic Benefits of Opibus
Opibus has several advantages in terms of costs and finances. Since the company manufactures its vehicles locally in Kenya, it can tailor production to Kenyans’ preferences. The vehicles also have a competitive advantage because Opibus produces them locally. This means that they will have a lower price by the time they are on the market. Opibus is providing more Kenyan job opportunities as well as providing cheaper, more sustainable vehicles. Electric buses are 80% cheaper in maintenance costs compared to diesel buses and operating costs could be 50% cheaper due to the lower costs of electric charges.
A study by De Montfort University showed that in rural, poorer communities in Africa, a lack of transportation is a significant wealth barrier. The study proposes that electric vehicles could offset such disparities, claiming that electric vehicle technology could increase taxi driver earnings from 250%-1,300% and even more so in tourist markets. This is especially for vehicles that could use solar power energy, which other companies are currently developing. Opibus received $7.5 million in investment in November 2021 and it will likely keep being an attractive company to support as the prevalence of electric vehicles increases.
It is clear that in a nation like Kenya in which 36.1% of the population were living below the poverty line in 2015, electric vehicles provide jobs to local workers while promoting an industry that could boom in the near future. These vehicles are also cheaper to manufacture and maintain. Manufacturers use used vehicles in the production of Opibus vehicles, making them affordable. Electric vehicle technology, which Optibus has pioneered, is likely to benefit low-income families in Kenya and other areas of Africa.
– Rachel Reardon