Rwanda: Transition to Electric Motorbikes Could Save Rwf9 Billion Annually

26 January 2021

The Government of Rwanda is engaging partners and private sector to promote e-mobility that could see phased adoption of electric buses, private cars and motorcycles with a goal to reduce conventional vehicle sales, transport fuel imports which are associated with gas emissions.

Approximately one in five trips in Kigali are taken by petrol-fuelled motorcycle taxis, contributing to poor air quality, high demand for imported fuel, and rising greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

According to researcher and air quality specialist, Dr. Egide Kalisa besides environmental benefits, the transition to use of electric motorcycles could also have fiscal impact

The move is in line with Rwanda's ten year climate plan to reduce 4.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2030.

The study dubbed "The impact of scaling up electric motorbikes in Rwanda" conducted by Rwandan researcher Egide Kalisa and other two researchers Andrew Sudmant, Jonathan Bower from The University of Leeds in UK analyzed the potential impact of scaling up the use of electric motorbikes to 100% in Kigali by 2025.

It indicated that transition to use of electric motorcycles could economically result in an "annual reduction of approximately Rwf23 billion in fuel imports".

This implies that as opposed to spending Rwf23 billion on importing fuel every year, electric motorcycles would spend only Rwf14 billion on electricity annually which is available domestically with the remaining considered as 'a net saving of Rwf9 billion annually.

The researchers indicate that while electric motorcycles are more expensive to buy than conventional motorcycles, they have lower costs per Kilometre.

"Expenditure on energy for electric motorbikes is significantly lower than for conventional motorbikes. With current technologies, Rwf100 would provide fuel for a journey of approximately five Kilometres on a conventional motorcycle, but the same Rwf100 would provide electricity for a journey on an electric motorbike of 11 Kilometres," the study indicated.

They say over the lifetime of a motorbike, these savings would amount to approximately Rwf1.9 million of savings in fuel expenditure.

The research concludes that a rapid transition to e-mobility in Rwanda, led by electric motorcycles, carries the opportunity for substantial economic, social and environmental benefits.

However, achieving these impacts it says it requires careful policymaking to support early stage e-mobility firms, coordinate between stakeholders in the transport sector, establish new standards, regulations and manage the impacts on the treasury and incumbent actors.

Required funding

Transition to electric vehicles, according to Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) resource mobilization strategy to raise funds for implementing Rwanda's ten year climate plan, over $1 billion is needed to convert 20 per cent of personal motor vehicles to electric vehicles including supporting infrastructure by 2030.

Rwanda has 170,000 personal motor vehicles, increasing by 12 per cent per year.

Rwanda has 1,500 buses, with more to be added for the Kigali Bus rapid transit (BRT) transport system and demand.

The climate fund requires $150 million to convert 20 per cent of buses into electric vehicles by 2030.

Juliet Kabera, Director General of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority said the 2018 Inventory of Sources of Air Pollution in Rwanda showed that vehicle emissions are the leading cause of air pollution in Kigali and other urban areas.

Recently, REMA launched its first ever electric vehicle that will be used to support the institution's mandate of environmental protection.

The initiative is a collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is also supporting REMA to promote sustainable mobility, including the retrofitting of 80 motorcycles from combustion engines to electric power.

Electric vehicles are estimated to represent 9 per cent of potential energy-related emissions mitigated under the country's climate action plan (NDC).

REMA is encouraging public and private institutions as well as individuals to shift to electric vehicles and join the effort to beat air pollution. REMA is also mobilizing companies which supply electric vehicles to install more charging stations around the country, to facilitate institutions and individuals outside Kigali to acquire electric vehicles.

Globally, more than 90 per cent of the population breathe polluted air and approximately seven million people die from air pollution related causes every year and transition to electric vehicles could help beat the silent killer.

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