KIGALI, Rwanda 

Rwanda launched a project Thursday aimed at putting more electric motorcycles on the country’s roads.

Described as another milestone in promoting e-mobility in the East African country, the project was initiated by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) with financial and technical support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Rwanda.

Speaking at the launch in the capital Kigali, Rwanda’s Environment Minister Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya said the country seeks to gradually phase out the use of gasoline-powered internal combustion engine motorcycles by converting them into electric bikes.

“The project will help Rwanda achieve its target of becoming a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 but also help to accelerate the transition from petrol-fueled motors — particularly motorcycle taxis, which account for more than 80% of the total motorcycles in Rwanda — to electric ones,” she said.

“It is also in line with Rwanda’s 10-year climate action plan to reduce 4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030.”

Maxwell Gomera, the UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda, said Rwanda demonstrates that development and green growth can go together.

“Using a smart combination of finance and policy, we are pioneering a vision of development without fossil fuels, effectively detoxing the transport system,” he said.

He added that adopting the use of electric transport systems will avert pollution-related diseases before they can cause damage, putting the economy and society on a greener and healthier pathway.

There are more than 40,000 commercial motorcycles in the country, but the pilot phase targets about 26,000 motorcycles in the capital.

Local firm Rwanda Electric Mobility is retrofitting the motorcycles for electric power with new motors and batteries.

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