Rwanda is Going Electric; Reveals Plans to Eliminate Petrol Motorcycles and Introduce Climate Friendly E-Motorcycles

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The government of Rwanda is working on national policy guidelines that will eliminate the use of petrol motorcycles in favor of electric motorcycles (e-motos) in the country.

This new plan was first made known by the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, at a youth forum 2 weeks ago where he revealed the government’s plan to find a way to replace the petrol-enabled bikes currently in use.

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.

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.

And since making that statement, the Director General for the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority Patrick Nyirishema, has also come out to confirm the President’s words as part of a national e-mobility plan for the East African nation.

He disclosed to Techcrunch that the conversion to e-motorcycles is part of a national strategy to make Rwanda’s entire mobility space electricity driven. This is in keeping with the country’s efforts to protect the environment and cut fuel costs.

This ‘going-electric’ transformation will begin with public transit operators, such as moto-taxis, and move to buses and automobiles. And according to Patrick, “Once the policy is out, we’ll no longer permit any motorcycle that is not electric to be added to a fleet.”

But the country’s regulators will provide an appropriate transition period and program for taxi operators to move to e-motos. However, the government hasn’t officially announced its partners for this effort.

Like many African countries, motorcycle taxis in Rwanda are a common means of transit, with an estimates of about 30,000 bikes currently operational in the capital city of Kigali alone. And this news comes as Africa’s $4 billion motorcycle taxi space continues to experience new players, fundings and expansions.

This new policy will also mean that ride hailing startups and other motorcyclists operating in the country will need to make a switch from their current bikes. And already, a Uganda-based startup, Ampersand, has begun testing e-motos and charging systems in Rwanda. This is in partnership with a local bike hailing startup, Cango.

Ampersand motorcycle

Interestingly, Ampersand has embarked on a feasibility study for the implementation of these electric vehicles across the country. And according to Cango’s co-founder Barrett Nash, the startup intends to be one of the very first to migrate once the national policy kicks in and the bikes are ready.

Ampersand’s CEO Josh Whale says the new policy will also benefit the drivers as they will be spending less. EVs are relatively cheaper than the fuel motorcycles when you factor in the $2000 a year that taxi drivers spend on fuel and oil-changes for their gas machines.

This policy is another milestone for the country, which has become a forerunner in the global push for environmental protection. The adoption of electric motorcycles follows other steps the Rwandan government has taken to protect the environment and keep Rwanda pollution-free. 

In 2008, Rwanda banned the use of plastic shopping bags. In 2018, it also banned the use of single-use plastic materials, including water bottles. The country is also supporting Volkswagen in its efforts to develop electric vehicles in the country as the company plans to release 50 electric cars for its ride-hailing startup.


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