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IUEA moves to produce electric motorcycles

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The International University of East Africa (IUEA), in partnership with Clean Air Initiative Africa and with support from the United Nations, is set to produce electric motorcycles. The motorcycles are expected to reduce gas emissions, which cause pollution.

The Clean Air Initiative was developed as part of the Social and Political Drivers Action Area of the 2019 Climate Action Summit, led by the World Health Organisation, together with the Governments of Peru and Spain, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the International Labour Organisation.

The pilot project has been ongoing and is in its fifth year; with three prototypes already done. The university is also working with the energy ministry and the assistant commissioner for technical planning.

Dr Gerald Banaga Baingi, he said: “The project will cause a paradigm shift to a low carbon development path. This is the beginning of the greening of the transport industry in Uganda and the region.”

Dr Banaga has been involved in the research and concept development in this initiative.

The motorcycles use electric power and a charge of Sh2,500 can go for a distance of 70 km. This is equivalent to over two litres of fuel estimated at Sh9,000, which is more expensive.

The University already had 50 motorcycles and the plan is to have 10,000 and more motorcycles to cover the entire country, as well as the region. The project has been made possible with the support of the United Nations.

This will be used to inform the business on the development of appropriate motorcycles for the Ugandan market. The result will be mass scale and uptake of electric mobility in the country.

The university vice-chancellor Dr Emeka Akaezuwa, said: “Will facilitate a shift to electric motorcycles for Uganda through awareness raising, policy reforms, fiscal incentives, communication activities and creating an enabling environment for local manufacturing of electric motorcycles.”

Dr Emeka added: “Motorcycles are considered the low hanging fruit of electric mobility and thus a first priority to moving to electric mobility, because they provide net carbon benefits, regardless of the “upstream” electricity carbon mix, are more cost competitive than electric cars, don’t need new infrastructure and are a key solution in addressing urban air pollution.”

The university’s resident director, Hassan Alwi, said: “The project will lead the country to shift the motorcycle fleet to electric, so that by 2022, at least 30% of new sales will be electric motorcycles with a long term target of a complete switch over to electric motorcycles.”

Alwi is also in charge of youth development and local and international partnerships.

“This will result in at least 900,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide saved in a seven-year project. The projected carbon dioxide savings for the first fleet turnover after the project (7 years) is at least 6.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide,” he said.

Alwi said the future savings will be even higher because the fleet will continue to grow, and a larger percentage of this growth will be electric, until it reaches 100% electric in the future.

“At that point, savings will be at least three million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The project is using lessons from China, where more than 250 million electric motorcycles have been introduced and where petrol motorcycles have been phased out in favour of electric versions in their major cities,” he adds.

Alwi also said there is a need for the government to reduce taxes, for the importation of the materials to assemble the bikes. He added: “The initiative will make the bodaboda business more lucrative, on top of making it cheaper for students and the common people to use the new stronger bikes. Most importantly, we will be saving the environment from pollution.”

He also appealed to well-wishers and government to join them so as to ensure that the project succeeds

Dr Emeka said the transport fares for people using motorcycles will be reduced by over 55%. To take off, the project has included testing the electric motorcycles. The objective is to assess their performance and to raise awareness for electric mobility in order to act as a launch pad for the mass scale up of electric mobility in the country.

The motorcycles will be distributed to different stakeholders to test them, so as to provide the much needed information on their performance and also to create awareness. The recipients include public and non-public entities, such as local governments, hospitals, community service organisations and commercial motorcycle operating companies, among others.

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