The Government of Rwanda and UNDP Rwanda launch a retrofit electric Motorcycles project

June 10, 2021

A petrol-fueled motorcycle being retrofitted

Kigali, June 09, 2021 – Today, the Government of Rwanda in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched a Retrofit Electric Motorcycles Project in a bid to support national efforts to reducing the Green House Gases (GHGs) emitted from transportation.

Retrofitting e-motors project is yet another milestone in promoting e-mobility in Rwanda, which was launched in 2018. It will help to accelerate the transition from petrol-fuelled motors which accounts from more than 80% of the total motorcycle population in Rwanda, to electric ones. It will also help to achieve Rwanda’s target to become a carbon neutral economy by 2050.

Rwanda’s Third National Communication submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, by 2018, informed that greenhouse gas emissions from road transport were dominated by cars and motorcycles. Ongoing studies for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory under Rwanda’s Initial Biennial Update Report show that the taxi motorcycles are the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions estimating at 427.45 Gg CO2 e.g. (32.42% emissions from road traffic).

Moreover, according to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda counts more than 100,000 motorbikes officially registered as of 2021, with 46000 operating as moto-taxis. The city of Kigali alone counts 26,000 of moto-taxi, releasing more gases which pollute the atmosphere and negatively effects human health and the environment.

Seeking for solutions to address this issue, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) partnered with a private local company, Rwanda Electric Mobility (REM Ltd) to launch a pilot phase in the city of Kigali, with the financial and technical support from UNDP Rwanda through the Poverty Environment Action for SDGs (PEA) Project.

“Addressing air pollution is not only a priority to the environment and climate change but also to the health of the population. Pilot projects such as these, will help us to know the best approaches and technologies to take forward to contribute to air pollution and greenhouses in Rwanda that responds to the country’s commitment at national and International level to achieve submitted National Determined Contributions to UNFCCC” Director General of REMA, Juliet Kabera

Mr. Maxwell Gomera, UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda riding a retrofit motorbike

Mr Maxwell Gomera, the Resident Representative of UNDP Rwanda, applauds the initiative and reiterates UNDP’s commitment to support the country’s efforts to reduce dependency on fossil fuels in the transport sector.

Rwanda is debunking the myth that a country has to choose between development and green growth. Using a smart combination of finance and policy, we are pioneering a vision of development without fossil fuels, effectively detoxing our transportation system,” said Gomera, adding that “Burning fossil fuels causes pollution, respiratory diseases and costs money over time. Going electric zaps those problems before they can cause damage, putting our economy and society on a greener, healthier pathway.”

During the six-month pilot phase, 80 motorcycles will be retrofitted. Thereafter, retrofitting services will be available to motorcycle owners across capital Kigali on a relatively affordable cost.  

According to REM Ltd, retrofitting e-moto will cost no more than $ 850 USD, costing far less than current petrol incumbents.

Donald Rukotana Kabanda, the CEO REM Ltd explained that retrofit e-motors will generate more economic benefits than petrol-fuelled ones. “The retrofitted e-motors are equipped with two batteries, which may be also portable. One full charge costs Rwf 900 and covers 50km of a trip while one litre of petrol costs more than Rwf 1000 and covers 25km. This means that a retrofit e-motor-taxi operator will save more than Rwf 100 per charge compared to petrol-fuelled motor-taxi,” Kabanda elucidates.

 Retrofitting or electric conversion involves removing the entire internal combustion engine from a vehicle, installing an electric one in its place, and adding a bank of electric batteries, which makes it less pollutant. Only old used motorbike of 3 years and above will be retrofitted; making them almost brand new as all spare parts used to retrofit it are originally new.

During the six-month pilot phase, 80 motorbikes will be retrofitted. REM targets to retrofit 30,000 motors in the next five years

At least 40% of motorcycles, especially the moto-taxi fleet can be applied to this program. The REM projects to retrofit up to 30,000 motorcycles in the next 5 years.

The project is aligned with Rwanda’s policy and ten-year climate plan (Nationally Determined Contribution to Paris Agreement) to reduce 4.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030 and with Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST1 2017-2024) as well as Sustainable Development Goal number three (SDG 3) on good health and well-being.