Weeks ago, it was revealed that the Rwandan government has started developing a national e-mobility plan that would see fuel-based vehicles replaced with electronic vehicles. To this effect, startups like Ampersand and Safi Ltd are set to begin the pilot phase of the project.
According to The New Times, the plan is part of the country’s broader efforts toward achieving smart cities and a clean energy-oriented transport system.
Ampersand, a start-up that builds affordable electric vehicles and charging systems, plans to provide cheaper electric motorcycle for the three million motorcycle taxi drivers in East Africa, starting with Rwanda.
Safi Ltd, a local startup that uses technology to create shared electric bicycles and motorcycles, plans to increase the options for public transport and promote the use of electronic bikes.
The project begins with the rollout of shared electronic vehicles in Kigali, Huye, Rubavu and Musanze. According to Tony Adesina, the founder and the chief executive of Safi Ltd, Rwanda’s attitude towards reducing the use of fossil fuel enticed his company to the country.
“We are here in Rwanda because of the approach we have seen the Government taking in reducing the use fossil fuel (such as the car-free day) as one of the key aspects toward achieving a cleaner environment,”Tony Adesina, the founder and the chief executive of Safi Ltd
He added that the new innovation will need skill development and an assembling plant for operations to run smoothly.
“As we unveil this innovation, it is key to understand that it comes with different arms, including the construction of stations where the bikes will be stationed, skill development centres where operators will be quarterly receiving intensive training and an assembling plant for the bikes which will all enhance the employability of Rwandans,”Tony Adesina, the Founder and the Chief Executive of Safi Ltd
Safi revealed that it has invested around $13 million in the technology and plans to roll out at least 3,000 electronic bicycles, 2,500 smart bikes, and 1,500 electronic scooters across Rwanda.
Also, the firm revealed that they are in the process of setting up about 1000 charging and parking docks across Kigali city and in three other towns in the country.
How Safi Works?
The new Safi bicycles possess advanced security as they have been fitted with smart locks on the tires. To use the bicycles, commuters are required to download a mobile application which they will use to unlock the bicycles from charging docks across the city.
However, those without smartphones will use smart-cards issued by the company to access the bicycles.
Safi explained that cost will be determined by Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authorities (RURA).
The firm added that to make payments, customers will have options such as mobile money as well as bank transfers while card users will rely on agents to load their cards.
Adesina expressed believe that market penetration will be easy because of Rwanda’s government’s several clean energy initiatives. He added that they were targeting all segments of the society.
“We are targeting all segments of society, from students to middle-class. Since cyclists don’t require a permit, we believe that we will have many customers signing up to our system,”Tony Adesina, the Founder and the Chief Executive of Safi Ltd
Rwanda’s embrace of clean energy initiatives is laudable, and as progress is made by startups like Ampersand and Safi Ltd proliferation across the region will follow. This will certainly fasten Africa’s journey toward attaining smart cities and a clean energy-oriented transport system.
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