Uganda to swap all ICE motorcycles to electric for free

Talking about EV incentives, this one from the African country Uganda fires one’s imagination: President Museveni announced in his end-of-the-year address he made a deal with investors to swap all motorcycles with internal combustion engines (ICE) in the country for locally-produced electric ones for free.

The investors will be able to make their money by leasing the most expensive part – the battery – of these so-called electric piki pikis (motorcycles) and setting up battery-swap and charging stations. The electric motorcycles will be produced locally and cost the investors 5 million Ugandan shillings (€1 277), and the operators will save 50% by no longer needing fuel.

Electrifying boda bodas

According to the Ugandan news site NilePost, the government has already started efforts to popularize electric motorcycle taxis, so-called boda bodas, in the country.

Jumping on the back seat of such a motorcycle is a popular way of public transport in Africa. Seventy percent of the transport volume in East Africa is handled by two and three-wheeled vehicles running on gasoline-powered combustion engines.

Science and Technology Minister Dr. Monica Musenero said the government already made a deal in October with local e-boda manufacturers Bodawerk International Limited and Zembo. For instance, the latter offers a rent-to-own plan where the driver pays weekly and owns the bike after two years.

Seventy-kilometer range

The Zembo e-bike has a 72V battery that allows for a range of approximately 70 km, which should be adequate for urban use as it can be swapped easily in one of the company’s stations. Zembo operates a network of swap stations where batteries are charged with solar energy or from the grid, which in Uganda is for 90% hydro-generated renewable energy.

The Zembo e-motorbike has a 72V swappable battery and offers a range of 70 km /Zembo

The E-BODA Commuter e-motorcycle from Bodawerk International Ltd. has a single gear and can provide up to 100km of range with a 150kg load capacity. The E-BODA Work has a 4-speed transmission and can provide up to 100km of range with a 250kg load capacity, according to the company’s website.

The company also manufactures electric outboard motors (10 hp) and e-TukTuks with a larger 3Kw motor, the capacity to have multiple batteries, and a payload of 500 kg.

Anti-theft protection

According to NilePost, Musenero explained that  “these bikes are 60% cheaper to operate than the current ones because they don’t take fuel. Charging the motorbike takes a tiny fraction. They don’t have a lot of serviceable parts, and the operator gets a lot more money.”

“Because they are made here, we are taking care of safety measures and local circumstances. For example, if it is stolen, it will report to us, and we will be able to switch it off. If you try to remove parts, it will report. This will enhance the security of the motorcycle.”


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