Ghanaian startup SolarTaxi, an initiative started by Kumasi Hive through the partnership with the Mastercard Foundation in 2018, is scaling up its electric bike business. After a successful pilot in Kumasi, SolarTaxi incorporated an e-mobility company to help build on the outcomes of the project and grow its impact across Ghana and the continent.
SolarTaxi offers electric bikes in Ghana under several models that help lower the traditional barriers to entry and helps accelerate adoption. These include a work and pay model and a rental service. Outright sale options are also available.
SolarTaxi seeks to create environmental, social, and economic impact in Ghanaian communities by harnessing the renewable energy of the sun and using it to power vehicles. It regularly hosts technical training sessions around Ghana with strong emphasis on their Female Engineers Academy, where trainees undergo practical training on the assembly of electric bikes.
It’s really good to hear of another delivery firm that uses electric scooters and bikes. These kind of companies are starting to pop up in several African countries, as we have seen in Namibia with E-Bikes for Africa and MyFoodness from Botswana.
“Our delivery business with electric bikes has been great so far,” says Jorge Appiah, SolarTaxi’s CEO.
“We are serving 21 businesses and completing about 450 deliveries daily. We currently provide services to courier companies, food delivery companies, individual client whose operations need delivery services. We also get a lot of random deliveries.
“We currently have 112 solar electric bikes as of July 2020. We expect to increase the fleet to over 300 bikes before the end of 2020. Almost every sector of the economy has taken a hit in the Covid-19 season, however, there has been a significant growth in the ecommerce space. This has reflected in our business since we have received significant demand in the services we provide to customers.”
The home delivery market worldwide has been given a boost as many nations have implemented a range of movement restrictions ranging from issuing strong social distancing guidelines to stay-at-home orders to full lockdowns. It appears the social distancing practices have also given a much needed boost to firms using e-bikes in the last-mile/home delivery industry.
“The electric bikes use the Lithium battery. This battery type is more durable, more effective compared to others like the previous lead acid battery. Distance per charge range is up 200km with a maximum speed of 60-70 km/hour depending on the model.”
SolarTaxi has set up three solar charging stations across the country and is in the process of rolling out more solar powered charging stations. By leveraging the energy from the sun and innovativeness of the shared economy, SolarTaxi aims to reduce carbon emissions while providing low cost mobility service delivery and related ecosystem services to individuals and businesses across Ghana and eventually across the continent.
SolarTaxi currently operates from its main corporate office in Lartebiokorshie, Accra. It also has offices in 3 other cities; Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale. Within the last 6 months, SolarTaxi has achieved a total fleet of 112 solar-electric motorbikes, 7 tricycles, and 9 cars in operation in Accra and Kumasi. This fleet has completed a total ride distance of over 200,000 kilometers within this period.
Ghana has recently found itself in an enviable position of having excess electricity generation capacity. The 2019 National Household Electricity Access Rate was 82.5%, so there is no shortage of electricity to charge up the EV revolution. 60% of this electricity, though, is from thermal power plants.
It’s really good to see SolarTaxi prioritizing solar as its main source of electricity to offset those CO2 emissions from the thermal power plants. Accelerating the adoption of EVs in a bid to displace CO2 emissions across the globe has become very critical as recent studies show the devastating effects air pollution has been having on our lives.
Advances in EV technology and the resulting decrease in prices of major components means that electromobility is not only better for the environment, but also cheaper. This makes the conversation a whole lot easier when trying to convince small business owners to switch to EVs. Now is the time to get African countries switching to electric mobility.
All images courtesy of SolarTaxi.