Rwandan Startup, Ampersand Raises $3.5m, Largest e-mobility Investment In Africa

Ampersand is Africa’s first electric motorcycle company. The company has secured a $3.5 million investment from the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF). This investment makes it sub-Saharan Africa’s largest-ever e-mobility investment by a venture capital fund. Experts are saying that this investment in electric motorcycle company could be a huge turning point in Africa’s transport industry.

Ampersand is based in Kigali, Rwanda. The company assembles and finances electric motorcycles (referred to as e-motors and e-bodas). The ‘About us’ on the company’s LinkedIn profile says that “we build affordable electric vehicles and charging systems for the three million motorcycle drivers in East Africa, starting with Rwanda. By using a battery swap model, we make it cheaper to buy and operate an electric motorcycle than a petrol motorbike. Going electric will already double a driver’s income now, and help leapfrog Africa towards a zero carbon future”. The company’s LinkedIn profile also boldly described it as one in the industry of Renewables and Environment.

Ampersand says that its electric bikes are cheaper and will perform better when compared to the 5 million petrol motorcycles that are in use across East Africa. According to the company, their electric vehicles emit at least 75 percent less carbon than motorcycles that run on petrol and tailpipe emissions. Apart from its electric vehicles, the company also specializes in a network of battery swap stations which allows drivers to change battery faster than refilling a tank with petrol.

Ampersand launched in May of 2019. The company says since its launch till now, its fleet of 35 drivers and e-motos have covered over 1.3 million kilometres and over 7,000 drivers are on its waiting list.

The Founder and CEO of Ampersand in regards to the investment of the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) said that “we’re thrilled to have EIF on board for this historic investment. We now have the momentum to scale our operations to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million taxi motorcycles by 2030. EIF’s support further dispels the myth that electric transport will happen in rich nations first and trickle down to developing nations later”.

Ampersand plans to expand to other African countries soon enough but looking at how motorcycles have been banned in a handful of Nigerian states, it might not work in Nigeria.

At the end of the day, Ampersand can be referred to as the Tesla of Africa!

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