The first electric motorcycle company in Kenya, Ampersand, secured $9 million in funding 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. Headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, Ampersand assembles and finances electric motorcycles (emotos or e-bodas) that cost less to buy and operate, and perform better than the 5 million petrol motorcycle taxis in use across East Africa – all with up to 83% fewer carbon emissions.
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The core of Ampersand’s business is the network of battery swap stations and fleet of batteries the company builds and operates. This system allows drivers to swap batteries faster than refilling a petrol tank 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 its fleet of 56 drivers for over 2 million kilometres.
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.
DFC’s facility builds on a $4 million Series A round Ampersand secured earlier in 2021, which was supported by Silicon Valley investor Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) and TotalEnergies.
Ampersand received its early-round seed funding from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Rwanda’s Green Fund and the UK Government’s Frontier Technology Livestreaming initiative, among others and now they are looking forward to DFC’s investment to further expand its business in the region.
Josh Whale, Founder and CEO of Ampersand: “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. On the eve of COP26 in Glasgow we believe more bold, fast-moving and innovative funds like PI² are urgently needed.”
DFC’s Chief Climate Officer Jake Levine: “DFC is proud to support Ampersand in their important and innovative work bringing e-mobility and electric motorcycles to Rwanda and Kenya. DFC is focused on making impactful investments in developing countries that will help communities progress and grow while simultaneously building resilience and prosperity for a clean energy future — this investment and the incredible growth that Ampersand has demonstrated in the market represents a great step in that direction.”
Certainly a step in the right direction for electric mobility in Africa. Conversations around the electrification of motorcycles, busses and minibus taxi’s were pivotal discussions and themes at this year’s Smarter Mobility Africa.
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