Chinese EV maker BYD deal emboldens Rwanda’s Ampersand to expand into East Africa

Posted on : Wednesday , 10th July 2024

Tanzania and Uganda are two of Ampersand's planned expansion markets. Ampersand is an electric motorcycle manufacturer and supplier. Weeks after the Rwanda-based company and China's BYD secured an agreement for the production of 40,000 e-motorcycles in Rwanda and Kenya, the ambitious ambitions have been announced.


Since its founding in 2016, Ampersand has built and installed e-motorbikes in Rwanda and Kenya in addition to running its own network of charging stations, now numbering 27 in Rwanda and 18 in Kenya. The company's long-term objective is to control the rapidly expanding African e-motorcycle market, which is expected to be valued at just less than 4.9 billion USD by the end of this year.


Another move in that direction is Ampersand's agreement with BYD. The Rwandan business will leverage BYD's experience in making more affordable, smaller batteries in order to increase its market share in East Africa.  


Africa presents a significant opportunity for BYD due to its large market size, robust growth potential, and, crucially, its receptiveness to Chinese involvement and investment, in contrast to the U.S. and EU, which have erected tariffs on domestically produced electric vehicles from BYD and other Chinese OEMS.  


For instance, Rwanda permits businesses to set up charging stations without collecting a fee and does not impose import charges on electric vehicles or motorcycles. In May of this year, the Indian EV producer Siro was able to raise 50 million USD to expand its production of e-motorcycles in Rwanda. International EV manufacturers, such as Ampersand from neighboring Rwanda, have been drawn to Kenya by the country's National E-mobility Policy. With plans to launch 4,000 units the next year, BYD's own plant in Kenya, which produces electric vehicles and buses, will produce 500 units this year.  


In Africa, the rush towards e-mobility is mostly driven by the fact that electric motorcycles may reduce gasoline and maintenance costs by around 45%, or 600 USD, year, in addition to the decarbonization issue. For the millions of business owners in Africa who depend on two-wheelers to move people and products, it represents a substantial profit boost.  


Encouraged by its agreement with BYD, Ampersand has now said that it will extend its reach beyond Rwanda and Kenya to encompass Tanzania and Uganda, thereby creating a foothold in all four of East Africa's major markets.

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