Electric Motorcycles in East Africa

Image Source: bloomberg.com

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1) Sustainability problem: Air Pollution in cities in East Africa (Health and Safety)

  • In East Africa, the motorcycle is the dominant mode of motorized transport. The motorcycle taxi industry has led to an exponential growth in the imports of ICE (internal combustion engine) motorcycles where widespread use in urban areas contributes to health complications associated with air pollution, such as asthma. These internal combustion engines are also problematic in the context of energy, due to their reliance on finite fossil fuels. 

2) Technology Summary

Reference: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/08/ampersand-secures-sub-saharan-africas-largest-ever-private-investment-in-electric-mobility-3-5-million/

  • Electric motorcycle company Ampersand, based in Rwanda, aims to replace petrol motorcycles with electric motorcycle taxis – a primary means of transport in East Africa where there are an estimated 5 million ICE motorcycle taxis in the region – offering potential to reduce carbon emissions and improve urban air quality, while increasing driver take-home pay.
  • Ampersand’s technology includes high-performance electric motorcycles, fleet of smart connected battery packs and a network of battery swapping stations run on a proprietary software platform. The battery swapping system allows users to access batteries anywhere in the network and optimizes battery distribution and lifespan by learning from live data analytics of battery locations, state of charge, and the charging station network.
  • This year, Ampersand received Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest-ever private investment in electric mobility ($3.5 million) and plans to expand to Kenya, Uganda, and other countries in Africa, illustrating the momentum to scale operations to reach the goal to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million taxi motorcycles by 2030.
  • Recent investment into the technology in East Africa is encouraging and dismisses the assumption that electric transport will grow in wealthier nations first and trickle down to developing countries later. It is evident there is vast potential for the EV industry to scale in developing countries, where electrifying 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles has potential to both improve local air quality as well as contribute to climate change mitigation globally.

3) Organizational stakeholders 

  • Public – drivers, riders, city residents 
  • Government regulators, urban planners
  • Investors
  • Taxi companies, courier companies, delivery companies
  • Energy companies, petrol companies

4) Deploying this technology

  • Stakeholder engagement and education: Educate and understand viewpoints of all relevant stakeholders on adoption/impacts/risks/policy regarding electric motorcycle adoption and infrastructure implementation.
  • Scale: Continue identifying and understanding local target market to guarantee consumer buy-in. Expand sales of the technology geographically across the region, assessing implementation decisions on a local basis.
  • Measure performance: Rigorous tracking of social and environmental impacts (e.g. improvements of air quality over time) of the new technology is necessary as it expands, alongside the tracking of profits and cost-savings. Work with local governments to ensure effective regulation on data collection and technology expansion.

References:

https://www.ampersand.solar

https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/08/ampersand-secures-sub-saharan-africas-largest-ever-private-investment-in-electric-mobility-3-5-million/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-08/africa-s-electric-motorbike-pioneer-seizes-silicon-valley-funds

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