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Bringing Electric Bajajis to Tanzania

Enabling youth drivers to take ownership of their industry and participate in a more sustainable future for public transport in Africa

Photo of William Lloyd-George
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

E-tatu’s plan is to create electric taxi vehicles in Tanzania that can reduce pollution in the city and provide affordable and sustainable transport on the basis of a rental scheme for the country's youth. Tanzania is going through a population boom with the country's largest city, Dar es Salaam, ranked as the third fastest growing city in Africa and the ninth fastest in the world. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of the city cannot keep up. Waiting hours in traffic brought to a standstill is not uncommon and driving the 15 km to the airport from the city center can take 12 minutes during night hours, and as much as two hours during the day. Adding on to this is pollution. Pollution has recently been categorized as the leading cause of death in the developing world, killing double the number of people as Malaria, HIV/AIDs and Tuberculosis combined. While there are many causes of pollution, transportation is a major one, with India banning all petrol auto rickshaws in its large cities. Dar es Salaam is home to around 30,000 petrol auto rickshaw drivers (locally called bajajis) where youth pay both a daily fee to rent the bajaji and all petrol and service costs. However, these drivers are often banned from the most lucrative routes due to issues of permits and pollution in city center. We hope to rent both the bajaji and a charging solution while providing permits to enter city center due to its sustainable footprint. This has the potential to create thousands of jobs.

WHO BENEFITS?

As the majority of the 30K 'bajaji' drivers are youth, the main beneficiaries of the project will be them. At the moment, many of the young drivers are renting bajajis that are banned from going downtown and therefore miss out on potential income. Each E-Tatu will be able to go all over the town and will provide a job for one youth entrepreneur. E-Tatu will also develop training programs for mechanics in order to teach them how to do battery swaps.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

The core team members of E-Tatu are William George and Andrew Soper. William has been working across Africa researching climate change issues and developing renewable energy projects. Andrew has several businesses based in Dar Es Salaam that work with solar power and innovative energy solutions.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Tanzania

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

Introduction

Tanzania is going through a population boom. Dar es Salaam, the country’s biggest city, is currently the third fastest growing city in Africa and the ninth fastest growing city in the world. It’s population of five million will easily leap to 10 million people by 2030. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of the city cannot keep up. Waiting hours in traffic brought to a standstill is not uncommon and driving the 15 km to the airport from the city center can take 15 minutes in the middle of the night, and as much as two hours during the day.

Adding on to this is pollution. Pollution has recently been categorized as the leading cause of death in the developing world, killing double the number of people as Malaria, HIV/AIDs and Tuberculosis combined. The vast majority of these deaths occur in the developing world. While there are many causes of pollution, transportation is a major one, contributing more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air. As a subsector, road transport is the largest contributor to global warming and transport in general accounts for 15% of global CO2 emissions. While vehicle emissions have been reduced up to 90% since 1998, car ownership in Tanzania is growing at alarming rates with mostly older vehicles being imported.

While the city does have recognizable sprawl, the density is also quite impressive. Average commute times for citizens may take over an hour, but the distances are relatively short. Most of the city center, industrial areas and suburban areas are all within a 35-kilometer radius. The city is also incredibly flat, with very few hills.

Dar es Salaam has recently launched a Dar Rapid Transfer System with success that is formalizing some of the largest transport problems. However, this system makes only a small dent on demand for transport as there are still thousands of local buses, motorcycle taxis and auto Rickshaws (bajajis) attempting to cater to a population on the move.

In fact, Dar es Salaam is home to around 30,000 auto rickshaw drivers (locally called bajajis) and an additional 30,000 motorcycle taxis, the majority of which are driven by young adults. This is unsurprising as these vehicles are able to deftly navigate through traffic saving precious commute time.  These vehicles are also guilty culprits when it comes to pollution, with one liter of petrol producing around 2.3 kilograms of C02 and cities like Delhi outlawing petrol based auto rickshaws, forcing them to change to autogas. But even autogas only reduces CO2 emissions by 15% compared to petrol.

There is a better way to create affordable and sustainable transport.

Current Market

The majority of bajajis drivers do not own their own vehicle, but instead rent it for a daily fee. They are then required to pay the petrol costs in addition to the rental fee. Average rental fees are around $10 per day and petrol costs vary from around $5 to $15. This puts their daily costs around $20 per day, though that is not the end, as the renter is often the one to pay for any mechanical or service rated issues.

Moreover, in order to enter into town, motorcycle taxis and bajaji drivers are required to get permits that must be paid in advance and cost around $200 per year. This is to limit the number of taxi vehicles in town to control pollution and crime. This is a large upfront fee for the drivers and the majority are unable to pay.

Our Plan

E-tatu’s plan is to create electric vehicles in Tanzania that can reduce pollution in the city and provide affordable and sustainable transport. The company looks to first introduce electric powered bajajis in Dar es Salaam on the basis of a rental scheme. The company will charge $15 per day which will include rental of the vehicle and one free battery swap per day. We desire to replace both the rental of the vehicle and the purchasing of petrol. In addition, our daily lease would have public liability insurance, a town permit and access to a hailing app. We will also fit our bajajis out with advertising for additional revenue. All batteries will be charged at night during lower demand times and with a percentage of renewable energy – such as solar.

We will be assembling the bajajis in Tanzania, but sourcing the best battery and chassis technology from companies all over the world. We will also train local mechanics across the city to do rapid battery swops, allowing for two fully charged batteries per day.

During the pilot phase we will trial the project with 10 vehicles, but would hope to scale up to over 100 in two years and 1200 before the end of year five. This is still just two percent of the market in Dar es Salaam.

Team 

The core team members of E-Tatu are William George and Andrew Soper. William has been working across Africa researching climate change issues and developing various renewable energy projects. Andrew has several businesses based in Dar Es Salaam that work with solar power and innovative energy solutions. Andrew's company RISE, was created in 2014/15 PCL created which distributes pre-financed Pay-As- You-Go (PAYG)
Solar Home Systems (SHS) to rural Tanzanian farmers. RISE has already won several awards. The team is also joined by Matthew who acts an adviser to the team and has developed successful award-winning start-ups in Tanzania. 

25 comments

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Photo of Jason Friesen
Team

William Lloyd-George Would love to talk with you and your team about incorporating transport into local emergency response networks. Appropriate and accessible transport is our biggest obstacle -- not only for transporting patients, but also for arriving on-scene. Here's a short news segment on our program in Mwanza, Tanzania, working with Boda Boda drivers (scroll down past map):  trekmedics.org/programs/tanzania/ Could be fantastic to link up. Great stuff!

Photo of Victor
Team

Hi guys, great idea. The level of air pollution in Dar es salaam is increasing and this can be an active element in fighting that! I have a question which is centered around the education/skills of the drivers. Will you be providing any training to drivers on using electric Bajaj? As a resident of Dar es salaam i normally see the drivers treat their bajaji's without care thereby shortening the life of the vehicle. I assume an electrical bajaj would be a bit more delicate. This goes hand in hand with the rain season in Dar es salaam which causes flooding around the city and how that will impact an electric bajaj.

Photo of Michael Benedict
Team

Where will the electric vehicles come from? How different are the parts required from standard a Tanzanian bajaj?

Photo of William Lloyd-George
Team

Great questions Michael, we will be sourcing the parts from a few different countries in Asia and assembling here. The chassis will be quite similar to conventional bajajis in Tanzania, but we want to make sure they are easily distinguishable. There will most likely be crossover on items like tires, breaks, etc. 

Photo of Simran Bindra
Team

What's the capex cost of one of these compared with a traditional bajaj? Impressed that you'll be able to cover costs (including comprehensive insurance) at $15/day.

Photo of William Lloyd-George
Team

Great Question Simran!  Essentially we are hoping for a total cost per vehicle of around 6,000 USD, including battery. While this is more than petrol bajajis (around 4,000 USD in Tanzania) the lifetime servicing, oil and petrol cost makes ours more competitive over the life of the vehicle. Comprehensive Insurance for the vehicle is 6 - 7% = $360 to $420 per year. We plan on having these vehicles on the road 7 days a week (swopping someone to provide for off days for each employee). The vehicle and insurance (for two years) will be paid off in one year and three months. Our bajaji's and batteries should last a minimum of 10 years. We will also be seeking revenue from advertising and a hailing app. We believe that the revenue year on year after the vehicle is paid off will cover the charging and running costs as well as provide a healthy profit, especially as scale is reached and we capture 3.5% of the Dar es Salaam market with over 1050 electric bajajis on the road.

Photo of Simran Bindra
Team

Solid! That's a lot more affordable than I thought! 

Photo of Alan Young
Team

This is great! Health benefits and the potential for Tanzania to be energy self reliant when combined with its ample renewable energy sources!

Photo of William Lloyd-George
Team

Thanks Alan!

Photo of James Mann
Team

Excellent idea, lots of potential . 

Photo of Ben Sousek
Team

Great sustainable solution to transport in a rapidly developing part of the world.

Photo of Bradley Callow
Team

THIS IS FREAKIN AWESOME!

Photo of Andrea Ottina
Team

Great stuff!!!

Photo of Adam Fryer
Team

Great solution with multiple benefits! Good luck!  

Photo of Nina Lande
Team

Simple and transformative! Just what is needed for a shift towards green economy in Tanzania.

Photo of Bo Duvenhage
Team

Brilliant!! Sorts out noise pollution as well .

Photo of Corinna Silvia
Team

Congratulations Sunshine, brilliant idea!

Photo of Nick Tiscoe
Team

Great idea, good luck guys!

Photo of Rj Katunda
Team

Great idea guys.. saving the environment and at the same time empowering the youth of Tanzania..Bravo n best of luck

Photo of Timoteo Rooney
Team

What a great initiative to tackle air pollution! Wishing you success!

Photo of Sergio Jacob Carnevale
Team

This is awesome. Having worked extensively in Tanzania, I know this will be a winner! Bravo guys 

Photo of marthe
Team

Great!

Photo of William Lloyd-George
Team

Thanks marthe !

Photo of Seb Glover
Team

Amazing ! You guys will be the Tesla of Tanzania!

Photo of William Lloyd-George
Team

Thanks Seb Glover Elon Musk and Tesla are definitely our inspiration! And while we won't be using their cars or batteries, we closely watch their innovation!