Log in
Free: The Observer Mobile App - Exclusive Content and Services

Rwanda encourages youth to use electric motorcycles

Ampersand, Rwanda's electric bike

Ampersand, Rwanda's electric bike

Rwanda has introduced the use of electric motorcycles (boda boda) as part of its efforts to protect the environment and cut fuel costs. 

Passengers and motorcyclists say the electric vehicles could dramatically change how Rwandans do business. James Musisi, 45, is one of 10 motorcyclists who have started to use the motorcycles in what is known as the moto-taxi business — motorcycle taxis. 

He says the vehicles are quiet, which means passengers are able to make phone calls as they're taken to their destinations. They're also relatively cheap. One electric bike costs $1,300 (Shs 4.7m) — less expensive than the $1,600 (about Shs 5.8m) price for fuel motorcycles.

Also, Musisi said, "There is no chain, no drum brake, and requires less [maintenance compared to] those that use fuel lubricant every week and have to change the oil."

Currently, there are 10 of the motorcycles running on Kigali's roads, but more than 600 are being built. Two charging stations exist in Kigali. A moto-taxi driver has to bring an exhausted battery to take a charged one, which runs for 70 kilometers (43 miles). The price for recharging an electric vehicle is equal to the cost of the fuel for traditional cycles. 

In 2016, four entrepreneurs from different countries formed a start-up called Ampersand with a mission to transform Rwanda into a mass market for commercial electric motorcycles.

Josh Whale, the company's chief executive officer, said electric motorcycles, also known as e-Motos, have great potential in Rwanda — a country known for its environmental initiatives.

"For electricity, we found that the grid is sufficiently reliable in Kigali," he said. "There has been a lot of investment made in new transmission lines, which are operating well, so everything is good for us." 

Environmental efforts

Engineer Colleta Ruhamya, director-general of Rwanda's Environment Management Authority, says this is another milestone for the country, which has become an important player in the global environmental protection movement. 

"I don't see why Rwanda should be behind. I think it's the right time for Rwanda to come forward. We call each and every person to also embrace [the effort] and to go [forward] together," Ruhamya said.

This comes after Rwandan President Paul Kagame declared that his government is going to replace all motorcycles with new electric ones. 

"We will find a way to replace the ones you have now. We urge taxi-moto operators to help us when the phase-out process comes," Kagame said recently.

The adoption of electric motorcycles follows many other initiatives the Rwandan government has taken to protect the environment and keep Kigali clean. In 2008, Rwanda banned plastic shopping bags. Last year, it banned the use of single-use plastic materials, including water bottles. 

According to the United Nations, every year 8 million tons of plastic end up in the world's oceans, poisoning sea life and harming fisheries.


+1 #1 Lysol 2019-08-23 21:49
Rwanda is somewhat ahead of most of it's neighboring countries.

Many developed countries are now using electric scooters to ride around town.

Boda boda should now be a thing of the past.
Report to administrator
0 #2 karemere 2019-08-24 09:25
Quoting Lysol:
Rwanda is somewhat ahead of most of it's neighboring countries.

Many developed countries are now using electric scooters to ride around town.

Boda boda should now be a thing of the past.

Rwanda is under a ruthless but PATRIOTIC dictatorship that minds about both Rwanda's and its citizens' development., so long as one does not cross swords with Paul. The Chinese have the same.
Report to administrator
-1 #3 kabayekka 2019-08-24 21:06
What about using electric trains on long journeys and buses as this country phases out the use of public transport by motor bikes altogether.

This is a poor African country that is trying to build itself only from within that is why it is failing to get on with proper democracy in its homeland.
Report to administrator
-1 #4 Charles Mugabi 2019-08-24 21:17
Lysol,Rwanda is ahead more in form than in substance, case in point at the end of the electric-bike's battery's life cycle the battery disposal will likely cause as much damage to the environment as bikes with petrol- engines would.

The battery itself or raw materials for it's manufacture in Rwanda will have to be imported just like the maligned fuel and still Rwanda will have to pay for the power for charging of these batteries the savings are likely to be minimal or non-existent.

Also for the touted plastic ban its equally absurd as the replacement, the paper-bags the paper manufacturing process and commercial tree monoculture still destroy the environment & reduce biodiversity.

At the end of the day Rwanda is more interested in PR and Propaganda at whatever cost & inconveniences to it's citizens.
Report to administrator
0 #5 MR 2019-08-25 01:37
Now that's a leader who's working for the future of his children. One that's clean and environmentally safe for them.

Unlike nrm that's selling off forests to foreign investors and charging higher taxes on brand new and electric vehicles. Kampala air is worse by the day coz narmanve is gone and lake Victoria water is more expensive to treat
Report to administrator
+1 #6 Nuwamanya E 2019-08-26 07:58
Good move. We can copy and Paste! After all, it is just technology!
Report to administrator
+1 #7 ntoni 2019-08-26 10:33
Rwanda coming up with motor cycles using electricity as opposed to fuel is not a surprise. Rwanda is quick as seeing innovation and market opportunities. The world is ripe when it comes to opportunities.

Ntoni Timbyetaho
CEO Marketing Africa Opportunities.
Report to administrator

Comments are now closed for this entry