UGANDA: Aptech supplies solar power to Zembo’s electric motorbikes

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UGANDA: Aptech supplies solar power to Zembo's electric motorbikes©Peyton R. May/Shutterstock

In Uganda, the solar energy provider Aptech Africa is commissioning an 8.5 kWp solar photovoltaic system to recharge the batteries of electric motorbikes belonging to the Kampala-based green mobility start-up Zembo. This hybrid installation will eventually reduce pollution in this East African country.

With 250 electric motorbikes transporting 800 passengers a day in Uganda, the mobility start-up Zembo is continuing its journey towards decarbonisation of transport. As part of this ambition, the start-up has just received a solar photovoltaic system to recharge the batteries of its electric bikes. The small solar power plant installed by Aptech Africa has a capacity of 8.5 kWp and is equipped with a 9.6 kWh battery storage system.

“The system is integrated into the grid with a Victron Quattro hybrid inverter that contains two inputs and outputs to connect an additional power source such as a generator. The system also has a smart feature, which is a charge controller with maximum power point capabilities provided by the grid for automatic fault detection and remote monitoring of the battery voltage,” says Aptech.

The initiative will enable Zembo to offer cheaper energy rates per kilometre thanks to the lower cost of its lithium batteries, reduce CO2 emissions that cause pollution.

An ecological vision supported by several partners

The start-up Zembo, which was created in 2019, recently inaugurated four new battery exchange stations for its electric motorbikes, three of which run on hybrid solar energy. These exchange points were installed along the Kamapala-Masaka axis (120 km) thanks to the financial support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German agency for international development cooperation, and the Powering Renewable Energy Opportunities (PREO), a renewable energy financing programme supported by the Ikea Foundation and UK Aid. PREO is implemented by the Carbon Trust and Energy 4 Impact.

The start-up led by Etienne Saint-Sernin does not intend to stop there. Zembo plans to strengthen its activities by putting 2,000 electric motorbikes on the road, building some 60 battery exchange stations in Uganda, and expanding into several other countries in Africa. All these operations will be carried out thanks to a $3.4 million financing obtained in November 2021 from investors InfraCo Africa, DOB Equity and Mobility 54.

Benoit-Ivan Wansi

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