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Can Africa go Greener?



New electric bikes in Rwanda pave the way for greener transport throughout the continent. Rwandan firm Ampersand has been supplying new electric bikes to local ‘motos’ who transport people throughout the country. Ampersand is stepping up as one of the only firms currently supplying electric bikes (currently 60) but the hope is that in the next 5 years the busy streets of the capital Kigali will no longer be filled with noxious fumes but rather the soft purr that comes from the bikes’ electric engines. Those that have been able to use the new electric bikes praise them as being more reliable and in the long run cheaper than standard petrol bikes.


There are currently 5 million motorbikes in use in East Africa alone which results in an unimaginable amount of carbon dioxide being expelled into the atmosphere and thus this pioneering initiative could have very positive impacts on Africa’s carbon emissions. This initiative is coming to fruition at the prefect time as COP26 is underway in Glasgow. At the COP26 summit it was heavily discussed as to how developing countries such as Rwanda and many others in Africa are expected to cut back there carbon emissions as these can often be costly and require a whole new production method to be created.

However, some have had criticisms about the stop to production or indeed only the diversion of government funding to these greener methods and how this could be catastrophic to an already struggling economy after the pandemic where GDP growth fell by 3.4% (which is the first recession since 1994).


Ampersand, whilst not only providing jobs to local Rwandans, may be providing a solution to a more pressing issue facing developing countries-Climate Change. For many in the Western World, climate change may seem like an issue that is distant and does not impact their lives in a meaningful way however in developing countries where much of the population work in the agricultural sector or rely on subsistence farming this has become a much bigger issue.


Unpredictable weather patterns such as droughts make farming more challenging as farmers are unable to rely on large harvests to sell at market and this is in turn could potentially lead to starvation in extreme situations. Ideally the goal would be to move these countries away from the agricultural sector and towards the services sector which is generally more reliable however, this is a long way off in many African countries and in many ways these countries must, in the short term, work with the hand they are dealt so to speak.


Greener methods of transport and production are undoubtably the route that countries must take the in future however, this may not be feasible given the volatility and indeed skillset of many developing countries. Compromises must be made within the current infrastructure until technology and funding has caught up with the climate crisis


 

Written by Kaitlyn Damant


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