Rwanda: Economically Vulnerable Women Turn to e-Motorbikes for Income

Thinkbikes' three-wheeler.

Over 2,000 female moto riders who are school dropouts, vulnerable single mothers, widows and are set to adopt electric motorcycles to generate income while 'greening' the transport sector, the City of Kigali has said.

The move is in line with the country's targets to reduce, by 38 per cent, greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming by 2030 considering that the transport sector is among the biggest emitters.

According to Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), over 30,000 motorcycles could be transformed into electric motorbikes over the next five years.

Some of the e-bikes that were given to over 2,000 vulnerable women. Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.

The figures from the Ministry of Infrastructure shows that Rwanda has more than 100,000 motorbikes officially registered, with 46,000 operating as moto-taxis.

The city of Kigali alone has 26,000 motorcycle taxis.

Martine Urujeni, the Vice Mayor in charge of Socio-Economic Affairs in the City of Kigali said that at least 120 vulnerable women who are school dropouts, vulnerable single mothers, delinquents, and former street vendors are being trained on using electric motorcycles in partnership with a local company-Safi Universal Link.

"After the three-month training, they will be provided with electric motorcycles and smartphones to start generating income," she said.

She said that the move is also in line with the goal to increase off-farm jobs in the country as it seeks to have created 1.5 million jobs by 2024.

"There are a number of unemployed women in Kigali and the transport sector is a great opportunity that women who have different issues should tap into," she said.

Penine Baraka, a female moto rider who heads a group of 120 trained women, said she had been unemployed for years.

"Many girls and women are decrying unemployment yet there are opportunities in creating jobs in the greening transport sector. With the given motorcycle, I hope to generate income to develop myself and my family," she said.

An assessment by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and Rwanda National police's campaign dubbed 'Healthy Vehicle, Cleaner Skies,' that has been running since March this year, has found that in some urban areas, 80 per cent of tested vehicles are emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.

According to studies, the transport sector contributes 13 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions in Rwanda.

Total adoption of electric vehicles and related solutions in Rwanda will require up to $900 million according to the Ministry of Environment.

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, introducing electric vehicles could save Rwf23 billion on fossil fuel imports annually.

In the next 10 years, Rwanda targets to convert 20 per cent of the fleet for Kigali Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), bus services to electric and 33 per cent of motorcycle operations.

Besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector, there are also adaptation measures to make the sector resilient to climate change effects.

Climate change adaptation is being mainstreamed in the transport sector by increasing the number of all-weather roads through improving road infrastructure from unpaved to paved roads with a focus on national roads.

In 2018, from a total length of national roads of 2749KM, 1385.5KM have been paved (50 per cent).

However, financial limitation is one of the major challenges among others, which results in gaps for technical and technological capacity, as well as pressure on natural resources linked to high population density.

Rwanda has to invest $506 million from 2020 to 2025 and $585 million from 2025 to 2030 in greening transport sector.

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