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Motorbike Taxis Behind Benin’s Green Revolution

Polluted air is the second biggest killer in Africa; for moto-taxi drivers the risk from exhaust fumes is high. New bikes could be part of the solution – if they can be made affordable. Indian manufacturer M Auto introduced its electric bikes in Benin in July 2022 and there are already 2,000 on the roads; an additional 2,000 people have paid deposits and are waiting for delivery. According to M Auto’s chief executive, Shegun Bakari, the aim is to have 25,000 in circulation by the end of the year across Benin, Togo and Rwanda. By the end of March he also wants to have a presence in Sierra Leone and Uganda. “We have to do something about air pollution in our cities. For me it’s a duty,” says Bakari. “It’s a health issue, and people riding moto-taxis are facing a lot of pain in [that regard].” Bakari has ambitions to get all moto-taxi drivers in Benin to convert to electric. This month he plans to launch a campaign to encourage them to swap their old bikes for new electric models. He and his team are working to persuade governments in Africa to reduce taxes on electric vehicles, as well as putting plans in place to assemble the bikes in Benin. They are trying to raise money to introduce more charging points and are in talks with the government to build a solar plant to provide the extra energy that will be needed.