Rwanda is set to start using electronic motorcycles and bicycles this week as part of broader efforts toward smart cities and a clean energy-oriented transport arrangement.
This was disclosed yesterday during a news conference in Kigali.
Gura-Safi Ltd, a local start-up behind the technology for shared electric bicycles and motorcycles, says it aims to increase the options for public transport and promote the use of bikes.
"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 Gura-Safi Ltd, told reporters in Kigali.
A sample of the electronic bicycle.
The arrangement will first be rolled out in Kigali, Huye, Rubavu and Musanze.
"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," Adesina noted.
Based on the several government clean energy initiatives, he added, penetrating the local market will not be a challenge.
How it works
Bicycles will be fitted with smart locks on the tires with commuters required to download a mobile application which they will use to unlock the bicycles from charging docks across the city.
President of Gura Safi Ltd Company Ike Etiabor and Chief Executive Officer,Tony Adesina address Journalist during press confress at Kimihurura on October, 7 2019 Craish Bahizi
Those without smartphones will use smart-cards issued by the company to access the bicycles.
To make payments, Adesina said, that their customers will use options such as mobile money as well as bank transfers while card users will rely on agents to load their cards.
The firm says the prices will be determined by Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authorities (RURA) and will be communicated during the official launch.
"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," he said.
The firm says 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.
It is in the process of setting up about 1000 charging and parking docks across Kigali city and in three other towns in the country.
With the firm's lead engineer being a woman, Adesina is also of the view that the innovation seeks to employ 25 per cent to 30 per cent female working capacity to build assembly capacities as well as recruitment.