Demonstration City: Rwanda
Tools and guides on shared systems and their application in various cities were incorporated in the SOLUTIONSplus online toolbox, alongside knowledge products on specific charging strategies for electric motorcycles in East-Africa.
Capacity-building activities targeted the immediate training need expressed in Kigali on EV Charging Infrastructure in 2021, before moving to the topic of EV battery technologies and end-of-life management in 2022. A large peer-to-peer training with more than 8 cities in 2022 enabled exchange on electric bikeshare systems.
Two start-ups are supported in Kigali: Guraride (electric bikeshare) and Ampersand (electric motorcycle-taxis). Seed funding was awarded to both companies; technical support and cooperation from EU companies was provided on battery sizing, battery design, drivetrain, operation and maintenance of shared fleets.
The bikeshare system was launched in September 2021, firstly with 80 conventional bicycles deployed at strategic locations connected to the bus network, to be completed with 50 electric bicycles in mid-2023. 80 bike racks were deployed at strategic locations in July 2022. The second component in Kigali of electric motorcycle taxis has a strong gender-inclusive component. Following an assessment of success factors for gender-inclusive projects, recruitment and ad-hoc driving training, 24 electric motorcycles were handed over to the women in November 2022.
Technical support on the electrification of buses is provided, and an E-Bus Master Plan is being designed. A MaaS application is being developed through discussions with the City of Kigali and the regulatory authority RURA. A design studio provides concepts for the re-design of public transport and integration of shared micro-mobility.
E-mobility for last-mile connectivity
The demonstration action of the SOLUTIONSplus project in Kigali focuses on electric mobility for last-mile connectivity. It has a systemic approach integrating public transport bus services with electrified feeder services provided by electric moto-taxis and electric shared bicycles.
As a first step, the projects supports 50 shared e-bikes provided by Guraride and 10 e-moto taxis by Ampersand. Further support will increase the number of vehicles, alongside the corresponding needed charging infrastructure. A gender-inclusive dimension is central to the e-moto taxi component, reviewing conditions for the involvement of women in transport provision. This will ensure that at least 30 women are supported to obtain a driving license to drive an e-moto. The demonstration project is also testing the establishment of an e-bike sharing scheme along the most widely used bus corridors, with charging provided by dispatchers or battery swapping with mobile lockers.
To further support the first and last mile dimension, a Mobility-as-a-Service application is proposed and designed in cooperation with the transport regulatory authority and transport & IT providers.
Alongside this connectivity dimension, the SOLUTIONSplus project in Kigali supports the analysis of the feasibility to transition to electric buses. To that end, SolutionsPlus partners cooperate with stakeholders involved in bus electrification in Kigali and provide their technical expertise. Expectedly, the project will create a good precursor to public transport electrification in Kigali.
Finally, the SOLUTIONSplus project, via the creation of a dedicated position with the City of Kigali, supports the creation of an e-mobility technical committee. Its purpose is to enable deeper coordination between public entities, but also with the private sector and representatives of civil society. The support of SOLUTIONSplus is reinforced by ad-hoc capacity building and policy advice on policies and next steps to scale-up e-mobility in Kigali.
Trends and drivers
The main form of public transportation throughout Rwanda and in Kigali is the minibus system, which runs both scheduled and unscheduled services according to a shared taxi system. Vehicle number is increasing in Rwanda; and by 2030, it is projected that the annual increase in vehicles will reach 16.5% from the current 12%, and light-duty vehicles will increase by 20%. Rwanda’s CO2 emissions per capita is estimated at 0.074 metric tons in 2014; and in Kigali, the transport sector is said to contribute about 52% of CO2 emissions.
In response to these trends, the City of Kigali and RURA have made tremendous efforts to reorganize the city’s public transport system. The city currently runs a well organized bus system on regular shifts. Kigali is also promoting electric mobility by testing the use of electric motorbikes, known as e-moto. The aim is to provide a low cost and environmentally friendly mode of transport, mainly for motorcycle taxi riders. This initiative is being driven by private investors such as Ampersand which is an electric vehicle company with the mission to develop “mass-market shifts from petrol vehicles to direct, cheaper, better electric replacements”. Also, the German car maker Volkswagen is set to establish an assembly plant in Rwanda with first productions expected in 2019. The company also has plans for the manufacturing of electric cars in the future (Krauß, 2018). The presence of such investor-friendly environment in Rwanda makes it favourable to develop electric mobility in the country.