What you need to know about Ampersand e-motorcycle taxis

On 18 January 2020 at 01:35

In May 2019, 20 e-motorcycle taxis were launched in Kigali to transport people and goods as a pilot scheme to test their performance on the Rwandan market.

The project aimed at promoting a zero-carbon future where people and goods can be transported by vehicles with the least carbon dioxide emissions.

The e-motorcycles use a battery swap model which can be used for 65 to 70 kilometers. Discharged batteries are replaced at Ampersand stations at Rwandex, Nyabugogo, and Kimironko.

Ampersand which deals in electric vehicles and charging systems currently employs 20 drivers who give to Ampersand Rwf 37,500 of the total amount they have earned over the week.

Emmanuel Hakizimana, Ampersand Country Manager in Rwanda told IGIHE that ampersand received 7000 applications of people who want to operate the e-motorcycles but that their objective is having at least 500 moto riders by the end of 2020.

Hakizimana said that besides noise cancellation features and other advanced technology features surpassing many other models in performance, the e-motorcycles use an automatic transmission easing the rider’s experience.

"Ampersand motorcycles have recorded better performance due to their automatic transmission and advanced technologies used in the manufacturing process."

Hakizimana said that Ampersand motorcycles are a solution to climate change caused by pollution.

A 2017 report by REMA showed that cars, motorcycles and charcoal and wood smokes contributed to the release of more greenhouse gases. The report also showed that 95.2% of cars in Rwanda were manufactured more than 10 years ago. 56.6% were manufactured before 1999 while 77.2% were manufactured before 2000.

Gasago Venuste, one of Ampersand drivers has been using the e-motorcycle for 5 months now. He said that he has made more earnings since he started using the e-motorcycle compared to using a fuel-powered motorcycle.

"For a liter of fuel which costs Rwf 1070, a motorcycle rides for 45 kilometers while for Rwf 940, Ampersand motorcycles can go for 60 to 70 kilometers. With only one battery, I earn Rwf 5000 while I couldn’t exceed Rwf 3500 per liter of fuel in the past."
Turatsinze Emmanuel who uses Ampersand as well said he would never dream using fuel-powered motorcycles again.

"Ampersand was a life-changing tool and I can never go back to using fuel again."

Despite all the praises Ampersand motorcycles have received, users suggest batteries should be empowered to support more kilometers given that there are just a few stations where the batteries can be swapped.

Ntawukirasongwa Jean Marie Vianney who uses a fuel-powered motorcycle says it would be hard to switch to Ampersand since there are just a few stations for swapping batteries. Maniriho Gerard also agreed that there is a risk the motorcycle could switch itself off anytime.

Regarding the issue, Hakizimana said that Ampersand is working to bring more solutions to allow a seamless experience to riders.

”We are working on establishing more stations across Kigali but considering the number of drivers we currently employ, the available stations are enough."

The Ministry of Health in Rwanda reports that every year, 3 million patients suffer from respiratory problems among which 13% were affected by air pollution.

The project aimed at promoting a zero-carbon future where people and goods can be transported by vehicles with the least carbon dioxide emissions.