Rwanda’s transition to electric buses

By Yizere Ange

Vehicle emissions are currently the main cause of the increase in air pollution in Rwanda’s cities. In recognition of the well-documented impact of air pollution on public health, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) has introduced incentives for the introduction of electric vehicles in all types of vehicles. While electric motorcycles, cars, Bicycles, and even trucks began to populate Rwanda’s capital Kigali, the high cost of larger investments in minibuses and buses has remained elusive. To ensure safe and environmentally friendly transport for goods and people, buses are the final frontier in terms of achieving the electric mobility targets set by the government of Rwanda.

Transport in Rwanda is mainly based on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles which have negative environmental impacts in the form of air pollution hazardous to health, emissions greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change, noise pollution and others. Combined with other measures such as dedicated bus lanes, intelligent transport systems (ITS) and non-motorized transport (NMT), the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is seen as an effective way to decarbonize the transport sector. The City of Kigali in particular has made considerable efforts to enable green development and innovation while reducing dependence on fossil fuels in the transport sector. These initiatives also have a strong potential for replication in the fast growing secondary towns of Rwanda.

The government of Rwanda has prioritized the transition to electric mobility to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and improve the well-being of its citizens, thereby contributing to the achievement of national and global goals. Transport contributes 13% of Rwanda’s national GHG emissions. the Updated NDC report in Rwanda estimates that US $ 900 million is needed for electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure. In the case of buses, bBy moving more people to public transport, cities can reduce road congestion, air pollution and GHG emissions. The electrification of public transport further increases the potential for reducing the negative impact of transport on the environment and public health.

Recognizing these benefits, the government of Rwanda announced ambitious goals and a comprehensive set of incentives aimed at overcoming obstacles related to the transition to electric vehicles in Rwanda. These goals include a transition from 20% of the minibus / bus fleet in electric vehicles by 2030. The challenges that deter operators from adopting electric buses include the initial purchase cost, the availability and accessibility of adequate charging infrastructure, and the lack of awareness of how electric vehicles work.

Among the most relevant incentives for bus operators, the government of Rwanda has reduced the electricity tariff for charging stations to the level of the industrial tariff. Electric vehicle parts, batteries and charging equipment are also exempt from import and excise duties. As part of non-tax incentives, bus operators and electric vehicle companies have also been allowed to use free public land to install charging stations. Electric vehicle manufacturing and assembly companies (battery electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles) in Rwanda also benefit from other incentives in the investment code, such as corporation tax (IS) at 15% and the tax holiday (regardless of investment value).

While the cost of purchasing electric buses is the primary deterrent for bus operators, the savings resulting from reduced operations and maintenance are substantial and are reinforced by the current incentives in place. Moreover, while buses represent only 0.74% of the total number of vehicles, they nonetheless contribute disproportionately to 39.1% of GHG emissions in the transport sector in Rwanda.

The benefits of transitioning to electric buses are most evident when you factor in the total cost of ownership (TCO), which represents not only the initial costs of purchasing the assets, but also the cost savings compared to the cost of ownership. to the company as usual operating practices of buses running on diesel or gasoline. In addition, the current incentives have reduced the cost parity between electric and diesel buses by full three years, meaning that operators will have the same TCO for electric buses as diesel buses after only three years operating (instead of six).

TCO analysis of electric buses. Image courtesy of the City of Kigali.

Total cost of ownership analysis so can help fleet owners and operators to assess the economic viability of the transition to electric buses and provide the rationale required to support the decision to switch to electric minibuses and full-size buses. By integrating TCO into the analysis of fleet operations, bus operators can play a central role in establishing and promoting smart and reliable public transport in the city of Kigali and the secondary cities of Rwanda.


About the Author:

YIZERE ANGE is an intern at GGGI Rwanda where she will work to support sustainable mobility implementation, electric mobility research and reporting, battery recycling potential research and analysis and other related responsibilities.

YIZERE ANGE is an intern at GGGI Rwanda where she will work to support sustainable mobility implementation, electric mobility research and reporting, battery recycling potential research and analysis, and other related responsibilities .

In 2019, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, she had the chance to do a professional internship at the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), where she worked as a monitoring and monitoring engineer. Imihigo evaluation, and they were supposed to evaluate the completion and quality of all the engineering infrastructure according to the district objectives.

Also in 2019, she had a good chance to study in China, Hunan Province, Changsha City, Central South University, School of Traffic and Transportation Engineering. During her studies, she acquired a lot of required knowledge in transport engineering and skills that she is proud to use in her country (Rwanda).

She obtained a Masters in Transport Engineering at the South Central University (China) in July 2021 and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering in the 2017/2018 academic year, at the University of Rwanda / College of Sciences and technologies.

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