A number of startups focused on electrifying the motorcycle and motorcycle taxis (boda-boda) market have now entered the boda-boda space in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. They have adopted several models, including battery rental and swap services, in hopes of attracting boda-boda operators with the lower operating costs of electric motorcycles. They say electric motorcycles can be up to 70% cheaper to operate and maintain than equivalent fossil fuel motorcycles.
One of the pioneers in this space, Esperluette, which is headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, has just secured a $ 9 million loan facility from the American International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to expand its operations in Rwanda and Kenya. The deal represents IDFC’s first electric mobility loan and signifies growing investor confidence in Africa’s growing electric mobility sector.
Ampersand assembles and finances electric motorcycles (e-motorcycles or e-bodas) which cost less to purchase and operate, and outperform the 5 million gasoline-powered motorcycle taxis used in Africa. Is, all with up to 83% less carbon emissions. The heart of Ampersand’s business is the network of battery exchange stations and the battery fleet that Ampersand builds and operates. This system allows drivers to swap batteries out faster than filling a tank with gasoline and protects vehicle buyers from the high initial cost of a lithium battery. Since its commercial launch in May 2019, the Ampersand team has completed more than 50,000 battery swaps, powering Ampersand’s fleet of 56 drivers over 2 million kilometers.
The press release adds:
DFC’s $ 9 million loan will enable Ampersand to increase the number of electric motorcycles on the roads in Rwanda and Kenya to several thousand by the end of 2022. The loan is part of the Portfolio for Impact initiative and Innovation (PIÂ²) of DFC and contributes to DFC’s commitment to the US Energy Compact and its goal of fighting climate change with a third of its investments by 2023.
DFC’s installation builds on a US $ 4 million Series A ampersand cycle obtained earlier in 2021, which was backed by Silicon Valley investor Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) and TotalEnergies. DFC’s investment also builds on the early stage support Ampersand received from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), the Rwanda Green Fund and the UK government’s Frontier Technology Livestreaming initiative, among others. “We are delighted to have DFC on board this historic investment, which is scaling up to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million motorcycle taxis by 2030. DFC’s support underscores sustainability and the investment of electric two-wheelers for mass market customers in the Global South, and the importance of this market in reaching net zero. On the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, we believe that bolder, faster and more innovative funds like PIÂ² are urgently needed, âsaid Josh Whale, Founder and CEO of Ampersand.
âDFC is proud to support Ampersand in its important and innovative work to bring electric mobility and electric motorcycles to Rwanda and Kenya,â said Jake Levine, DFC Climate Manager. âDFC is focused on making impactful investments in developing countries that will help communities move forward and grow while simultaneously building resilience and prosperity for a clean energy future – this investment and the incredible growth that Ampersand demonstrated in the market represent a big step in this direction. “
It’s really great to see all of this funding starting to enter the sub-Saharan electromobility space. Electric motorcycles will play a key role in the transition to clean transportation. The number of motorcycles is expected to continue to increase as demand increases due to the growth of the on-demand delivery market, as well as the motorcycle taxi industry (boda-boda). In Kenya, for example, there was a 17.4% growth in motorcycles and motorcycles (ICE) recorded last year. Records were 210,103 units in 2019 and increased to 246,705 units in 2020, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. These figures show the huge addressable market in Kenya. Startups like Ampersand are growing to tap this market and transform the industry with their electric motorcycles.
All images are courtesy of Ampersand
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