Benin uses electric motorcycle to reduce motorcycle taxi pollution

Indian company is investing in more sustainable vehicles and seeks to make this solution economically viable.

More than 250,000 motorcycle taxi drivers make a living driving the streets of Benin, West Africa. And many have faced illnesses associated with pollution caused by the use of vehicles powered by fossil fuels, the newspaper reports. The Guardian.

Despite being a small country (a little bigger than our state of Pernambuco), Benin accounts for 0.6% of global emissions of carbon dioxide. Of these polluting gases, 65% are produced by the transport facilities in the country.

Air pollution is the second biggest cause of death on the African continent, and has been linked to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, among other illnesses. More than one million Africans died prematurely from air pollution-related illnesses in 2019 — one-sixth of the global estimate of 7 million deaths per year.

Furthermore, greenhouse gas emissions have been growing at a rate of 7% per year. And the economic cost of air pollution in African cities will rise by 600% over the next 18 years if urgent action is not taken, says a Clean Air Fund report.

That's why the search for modes of transport more sustainable has grown. In Benin, for example, there are around 100,000 new bicycle registrations per year.

In July 2022, the Indian manufacturer M Auto started selling their electric motorcycles in the country. Today, 2,000 are in circulation, and the company's expectation is to reach 25,000 by the end of 2023, including not only Benin, but also Togo and Rwanda.

The motorcycle taxi experience

The Guardian spoke to Georges Amadou (not his real name), 35 years old, one of the motorcycle taxi drivers using the electric motorcycle. “I'm impressed that I don't need to do maintenance, like changing the oil. The bike is comfortable and silent”, he says.

Your concern is with the battery. AM Auto has battery change stations, like those adopted here in the partnership between iFood, Voltz and Turbo (Ipiranga's innovation hub) to offer the electric motorcycle to delivery people.

In Benin, when the battery runs out (after around 100 km of driving), drivers must go to the station and pay to exchange the empty one for a full one — in the iFood model, delivery drivers pay a monthly plan starting at R$ 129 for change the batteries. “I wish the battery had a longer life. If I want to leave the city, it’s a bit limiting because there aren’t many exchange stations.”

Domingos says that he would like to buy an electric motorcycle, but that it still doesn't fit into his pocket. The cost of daily battery changes would amount to 4,000 African Francs (about R$ 34), which is more expensive than filling your tank with 3,000 African Francs (R$ 25) each working day.

Shegun Bakari, CEO of M Auto, says he understands the size of the obstacle, especially in a country where 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Therefore, he plans to increase charging points for batteries and tries to persuade African governments to reduce taxes on electric vehicles and build a solar plant to provide the extra energy that will be needed.

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