Africa’s first electric motorcycle company, Ampersand, has secured a $9 million debt facility from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to expand its operations in Rwanda and Kenya.
The deal represents DFC’s first loan for electric mobility and signifies increasing investor confidence in Africa’s rising e-mobility sector.
DFC’s $9 million loan will allow Ampersand to scale up the number of electric motorcycles on the road in Rwanda and Kenya to several thousand by the end of 2022. The loan is part of DFC’s Portfolio for Impact and Innovation (PI²) initiative and contributes to DFC’s commitment to the US Energy Compact and its target to address climate change with one third of its investments by 2023.
Headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda the core of Ampersand’s business is the network of battery swap stations and fleet of batteries it builds and operates. This system allows drivers to swap batteries faster than refilling a tank with petrol and shields vehicle buyers from the high upfront cost of a lithium battery pack. Since its commercial launch in May 2019, Ampersand’s team has performed over 50,000 battery swaps, powering their fleet of 56 drivers for over 2 million kilometers.
DFC’s facility builds on a $4 Million Series A round of fudning Ampersand secured earlier in 2021, which was supported by Silicon Valley investor Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) and TotalEnergies. DFC’s investment also builds on early-stage support Ampersand received from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Rwanda’s Green Fund and the UK Government’s Frontier Technology Livestreaming initiative, among others.
“We’re thrilled to have DFC on board with this historic investment, which is building momentum to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million motorcycle taxis by 2030. DFC’s support underlines the viability and ‘investability’ of electric two wheelers for mass-market customers in the Global South, and the importance of this market to reaching net zero. We believe bolder, fast-moving and innovative funds like PI² are urgently needed,” said Josh Whale, Founder and CEO of Ampersand.