Lake Victoria’s passenger transport Waterbus secures US$3.8m from Infraco

EAST AFRICAInfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), has signed a Shareholders’ Agreement with Globology, committing US$3.8 million through its dedicated investment arm, to support the expansion of the company’s Waterbus passenger transport operations on Lake Victoria.

Waterbus is the first passenger-focused service to deliver scheduled ferry routes on the Lake, currently operating two 132-seater and one 80-seater safe, modern catamaran vessels for passengers and light cargo on two Kenyan routes.

The company currently has one further ferry under construction. InfraCo Africa’s investment will support the construction of five new fifth-generation ferries over the next 24- 36 months and will enable the company to finance upgrades to its existing boatyard located in Kisumu, Kenya.

The new vessels will operate on additional routes in Kenya and on new routes in Tanzania and Uganda.

“We are excited to work with Globology to grow its Waterbus marine transport offering on Lake Victoria,” Bertrand Ketchassi, Investment Manager at InfraCo Africa, said.

“Together we will provide people with safe, reliable access to mainland and island markets and essential services, and we anticipate that developing these transport routes will boost the wider regional economy.”

Bertrand added that they are particularly interested in the company’s plans, supported by grant funding from the Shell Foundation, to further reduce journey emissions by piloting the use of solar-powered propulsion on its vessels.

InfraCo Africa brings marine transport expertise to the project from our Kalangala Infrastructure Services and East Africa Marine Transport initiatives elsewhere on the Lake, and we hope that these will provide opportunities for shared learning going forward,” he added.

Shell Foundation, the UK-registered charity that works to enhance access to sustainable energy and transport for low-income communities, has provided Waterbus with a grant of US$800,000 to pilot retrofitting of a solar boost system to two of its vessels.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to grow the reach of the WaterBus service and expand our journey to save lives and facilitate development of Africa’s transportation-challenged communities,” Globology Founder, Malcolm Ormiston, said.

InfraCo Africa are an exciting partner to work with in expanding the water transport infrastructure sector that’s typically been poorly served by development and investment groups in the region.”

If the expected reduction in fuel consumption of around 15% is achieved, solar boost systems will be fitted to the wider Waterbus fleet.

“Expanding affordable and reliable access to cleaner mobility solutions for goods and people is critical to socio-economic InfraCo Africa is supported by development for low-income populations,” Wanji Nganga, Regional Manager – East Africa at Shell Foundation said.

“We have supported Waterbus since 2016 to serve isolated communities on Lake Victoria with a safer, more reliable, sustainable service.

“We are pleased to see the investment from InfraCo Africa, which is testament to the business model and technologies’ viability to scale and reach thousands more customers, and also very proud to continue supporting the vessels’ research and development with this new grant agreement.”

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