Rwanda turns to e-Bikes to reduce air pollution

Athan Tashobya

As part of efforts to shift towards low-carbon mobility, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has backed the availability of e-Bicycles during the Africa Green Growth Summit as an alternative to motorised transport.

Rwanda will host the first ever Africa Green Growth Forum, bringing together more than 1,000 investors, policy makers and financial specialists from across the continent to examine the opportunities that come with green growth as well as some of the challenges impeding its uptake across the continent.

The weeklong forum takes place from 26 to 30 November 2018 at the Kigali Convention Centre and at sites around the country.

Themed ‘For A Green and Climate Resilient Africa’, the forum will shine a light on the importance of sustainable economic transformation and signal green growth as a priority for Africa.

The Forum will encourage private sector investment in green growth, improve the understanding and use of finance as a tool for climate resilience, build partnerships between stakeholders working in Africa’s green growth sector and provide a platform for partners to engage and build relationships that accelerate the green growth agenda.

In bid to push for green growth, healthy living and climate resilient development around the continent, “delegates will have the opportunity to test ride new e-bicycles that have recently become available in Kigali since October 2018.

“The bicycles will be available for test rides during the forum,” the summit programme reads in part.

Michelle DeFreese, Project Manager at GGGI Rwanda told Sunday Times that the project started in January 2018 and looks at ways to incorporate low-carbon, sustainable mobility options into the transport sector.

“In this case, we specifically assessed the option of having public bicycle sharing in Musanze and Rubavu. For 2019, we hope to do similar work in Kigali,” DeFreese said.

She noted that about 30 bicycles will be available for each day of the forum and at least six of those will be electric.

“It’s a small number. But we’re hoping we can test the idea this year and perhaps expand the concept at the next forum. We are also organising two tours on the final day of the forum so that delegates can have the option of taking guided bicycle tour of areas inside and outside the City of Kigali,” DeFreese added.

The bicycles will be available courtesy of Africa Rising Cycling Center (ARCC) for delegates who wish to cycle to and from their place of accommodation to the Kigali Convention Center (KCC).

Guided tours will also be arranged during the week of the Forum to nearby areas in Kigali through GGGI partner, Rwandan Adventures.

“Two tours are also being provided on a first-come, first-served basis on Friday 30 November to take a guided cycling tour outside of the City of Kigali,” the document reads in part.

According to the schedule, one tour will be from 8am to 11am, the second tour will be from 1:00pm-3:30pm local time.

Both tours will start and end from the Kigali Convention Centre.  Cyclists will be provided with a guide, a helmet, and a filled water bottle during the two tours.

“Delegates are kindly advised to bring sport attire should they wish to participate in one of these tours,” The programme states.

Sunday Times understands that delegates will have to register to use the bicycles and/or sign up for the tours in-person during the week and attendants will located at the KCC.

Daniel Okechukwu Ogbonnaya, Ag. Country Representative GGGI told Sunday Times the bicycles complement the growing trend of e-mobility in Rwanda,.

“E-bicycles are part of the green mobility services that will help a country like Rwanda with some steep road network that affects non-electric bicycle riders having easy access.”

Defreese added that as e-motorcycles and e-cars all set to be available in Rwanda in 2019, “It’s definitely exciting to see how this will change the transport sector and address the issue of rising air pollution in urban centers in Rwanda. In addition, the prospect of introducing e-bicycles in Kigali makes cycling as a regular mode of transport more feasible for casual cyclists given the topography of the city,” She noted.

As Rwanda’s hospitality sector continues to shoot higher each year, given the number of meetings and conferences held in the country, Defreese believes it is high time local authorities raised awareness about transport options during such conferences.

In so doing, e-mobility solutions such as e-bicycles would greatly contribute to minimizing carbon footprint in Kigali.

“Every year, Rwanda hosts tens of thousands of delegates for international conferences. Many of the hotels are close to the conference venues, making it feasible to use alternative forms of transport.

We’re hoping this will also encourage participants to consider possible ways to minimize the environmental impact of hosting large events in their respective countries in the future,”

The summit will also feature the Africa Green Growth Investment Forum, an event bringing together government leaders and investors to explore the opportunities for green growth across the continent and chart a course for harnessing them.

During the Forum, a concert will also be held at which the Rwanda Green Growth awards will be presented in four categories: industry, media, youth and local government.

SOURCE: The New Times


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