Rwanda goes electric with locally made motorbikes

 Rwanda goes electric with locally made motorbikes

or 12 years Didier Ndabahariye has been ferrying passengers around the streets of Kigali – one of the thousands of motorbike taxi drivers, known locally as a motos.

Recently, he switched his usual ride for getting around Rwanda’s capital for one of the first electric motorbikes on the African continent.

“In the first days, things were not good because I was not used to riding e-motos and the bike sometimes cut-off.

“However I went on working, and soon I knew many things about how the bike works and how to ride it. Then I started saving more money,” Didier explains.

He is one of 60 drivers riding an electric motorbike from the Rwandan firm Ampersand.

The start-up Ampersand is pioneering the switch and hopes that over the next five years almost all of Rwanda’s motorbikes will be electric.

It is an ambitious dream – there are around 25,000 motorbike taxis operating in Kigali, some driving up to 10 hours a day, often covering hundreds of kilometres daily.

“Motorbikes make up more than half of all vehicles in this part of the world,” says Ampersand chief executive Josh Whale.

“Their simple engines lack the sort of costly emissions reduction tech that you see in modern cars, or in motorbikes in the global north. Meanwhile they are being run for over 100km per day, so that’s a lot of pollution, a lot of carbon [dioxide].