18 mai 22

Electric scooters poised to revolutionise mobility in Zimbabwe

The public transport sector in Zimbabwe is currently in chaos, reports Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai in CleanTechnica and it could be inadvertently boosting the adoption of electric scooters.

A government ban on private sector operators at the start of the global pandemic meant that state operator Zupco was the only urban commuter service available. It soon became apparent that the company had nowhere near enough buses to cater for the number of daily commuters and chaos ensued. Commuters were having to wait several hours to get a bus to and from work or school.

Growth in illegal taxis

The situation also lead to a number of illegal taxi operators (referred to as “Mushika-Shikas”) setting up shop.

The problem of insufficient public transport has worsened as the Southern African country has experienced petrol and diesel shortages, as it does periodically. Zimbabwe is an expensive place to buy fuel. A litre of petrol costs $1.64 and $1.71 for diesel.

Zimbabweans are used to dealing with shortages and finding ways to overcome them. Take water, for example, water shortages are frequent so to overcome this Zimbabweans drill their own boreholes and build community water storage. The same is true for electricity, which is often unavailable, rationed, or at best unreliable. So, citizens deploy rooftop solar systems and battery storage.

Limitless source of cheap electricity

Despite electricity being unreliable in Zimbabwe, it is generally cheap (under 10 cents/kWh). The same commute on public transport would cost 50 cents and double that in a taxi. The average daily commute in Zimbabwe is 15km or less. It seems then that electric scooters could provide the answer, not the low-to-the-ground, platform-based eScooters we typically see chasing around European cities but the moped type of electric scooter, popular in Asian countries and elsewhere in East Africa.

The problem becomes funding the cost of buying one when the typical annual salary is the equivalent of less than $10,000 per annum and the cost of an electric scooter can be as high as $2,000. However, in his article, Kuhudzai estimates that it could cost just 4 cents (USD) to fully charge an electric scooter, which is why they could be an option for commuters.

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Alison Pittaway