Motorcycle taxis are a common form of transportation in Rwanda and much of East Africa, but petrol-fueled motorbikes produce emissions, and in Rwanda, they are estimated to account for 80 percent of total transportation-related emissions. In addition to the carbon footprint, these petrol-powered motorbikes can be costly to operate since petrol typically costs more than electricity, limiting the earnings for motorbike drivers who provide an essential source of transportation to low- and middle-income populations. The Government of Rwanda is working to phase out all petrol-fired motorbikes as part of a larger effort to reduce pollution.
Solution and Impact
A $9 million DFC loan helped Ampersand, a young company headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, build a fleet of electronic motorbikes in Rwanda and expand into Kenya to provide sustainable replacements for gas-powered motorcycle taxis.
Ampersand assembles and sells electric motorcycles to motorcycle taxi drivers. The business used DFC financing to purchase additional batteries and invest in additional charging stations that will advance short-term plans to support a fleet of up to 3,000 motorbikes in Rwanda and Kenya. There are currently an estimated 100,000 motorcycle taxis operating in Rwanda, and the market in Kenya is estimated to be more than 10 times larger.
Because motorcycles are a rapidly growing segment of the African automotive market, the shift from gas- to electric-powered motorcycles offers the potential to significantly curb a key source of emissions over time, and advance DFC’s efforts to build climate-focused investments and reduce emissions across its portfolio.