Commercial motorcycle operators who wish to retrofit their bikes to environmentally friendly taxi-motos could soon be facilitated to access bank loans for the conversion, the head of the company spearheading the effort has said.
Donald Kabanda, the Chief Executive of Rwanda Electricity Mobility Ltd, said the firm is planning to engage commercial banks about the project.
The move is in line with a national effort to gradually phase out the use of traditional petrol or diesel-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles by converting them into electric machines, with a view to reducing air-polluting emissions as well as cut fuel costs.
The project, backed by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), was endorsed by the Cabinet in April.
"On our side, we intend to provide a guarantee for the bank to cover the retrofit cost," he said.
Asked about quality, Kabanda said this will depend on the type, nature and features of the bike to be converted, adding that it wouldn't exceed Rwf800, 000. This is about half the price for a brand new electric bike.
There are about 46,000 taxi-motos in the country, with 26,000 of them operating in the City of Kigali.
How it is done
"The cost will be covering two easily swappable batteries as well as the retrofitting process, which is replacing the petrol or diesel-run engine and accessories, including the chain and the exhaust pipe with electric parts," he added.
Kabanda also said that other people can also be facilitated to acquire their e-motor bikes - at Rwf1, 600,000.
"We have an arrangement in place which allows people to pay in instalments," he said.
Taxi-moto operators welcome move
Currently, there are some 120 e-motorcycles on the Rwandan roads, half of which are being paid for in installments, he added.
The development will come as a relief to taxi-moto operators who wished to embrace e-mobility solutions but were constrained financially.
Venutse Bizumuremyi, a taxi-moto operator from Gasabo District, welcomed the news, saying "I am happy with that arrangement. The cost of retrofitting is quite high but paying in installments will help us."
Theogene Niyonsenga, from Nyarugenge District, has equally warmed up to the idea of being facilitated with converting their bikes to electric versions.
Daniel Ntaganda, the chairperson of Rwanda Federation of Taxi-Moto Operators, told The New Times that their cooperatives were also willing to support their members in converting their bikes from petrol-fueled motos to e-motorbikes.
He also welcomed the prospect of working with commercial banks since the cooperatives may not afford to facilitate every member if demand is high.