Sudanese entrepreneur Mohamed Samir proudly watches as workers assemble brightly colored rickshaws that are unique in the North African nation because they are powered by electricity to help cope with the rising costs.
In Sudan, three-wheeled vehicles — tuk-tuk rickshaws for passengers and motorcycle tricycles with trailers to transport goods — have long been a popular and affordable mode of transportation. In the capital Khartoum alone, tens of thousands are bustling on the streets.
However, as Sudan has been gripped by a severe economic crisis, exacerbated by political unrest following a military coup last October, the cost of running petrol engines has skyrocketed.
“People who use the fuel-powered rickshaws are in pain and they know the value of what we offer,” said 44-year-old engineer Samir at the North Khartoum factory.
“We want to offer solutions.”
There are also critical environmental impacts.
Smoking petrol-powered vehicles not only cause climate change, they also cause “significant noise and air pollution,” the United Nations Environment Program warned in a 2020 report.
“Emissions from the tricycles reduce visibility, damage vegetation and cause respiratory diseases in people,” it said.
Samir says the new electric vehicles tick three boxes of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: poverty alleviation, health protection and environmental protection.
“It also makes a lot less noise,” he added.
“Daily income doubled”
Samir has faced years of challenges to get his factory up and running, but once it opened, business has been buoyant, selling over 100 cargo tricycles and 12 passenger rickshaws since last year.
Fuel costs have more than doubled since the coup. In addition, due to repeated fuel shortages, drivers have to queue for hours at gas stations to fill up their tanks.
Motorists complain that they earn less than they spend.
That was the main reason fruit seller Bakry Mohamed sold his old petrol-powered tuk-tuk last year and bought an electric tricycle.
“It used to cost more than it brought in,” says Mohamed, who carries a fruit stand through the streets in his vehicle. “Also, I had to worry about where to find fuel and where to change the engine oil.”
Mohamed proudly talks about his new electric tricycle.
“It was extremely cost-effective,” said Mohamed. “Now there are no more fuel queues. I charge it once and it runs all week. My daily income has doubled.”
Some drivers experience problems when first switching, but Samir said there have been no major complaints – and the electric batteries require less maintenance than fuel-powered engines.
“It’s new and they’re not used to electric vehicles,” he said.
The tricycles take around eight hours to fully charge, with a tuk-tuk tricycle able to travel 80 to 100 kilometers (50 to 60 miles), while a rickshaw’s range is even greater, between 100 and 120 kilometers.
But amid the economic crisis, Sudan’s electricity supply has also suffered, with frequent blackouts.
In January, the government hiked electricity prices, sending household bills up about 500 percent.
However, Samir said the electric rickshaws are still more efficient and far cheaper to run than alternatives.
“The cost of charging the battery remains lower than that of fuel,” Samir said, with a single electric charge costing less than half a liter of fuel.
Others who enjoy Sudan’s year-round sunshine have also freed themselves from dependency on the electricity grid.
Amjad Hamdan Hameidan, who has bought several electric rickshaws, powers his tricycle along the way.
“I use flexible solar panels,” Hamidan said. “We put it on the rickshaw during the ride, and it keeps the batteries charged.”
Samir argues that his factory is helping Sudan keep up in a rapidly developing world.
“Everything that runs on fuel will sooner or later be replaced by electricity,” said Samir. “We now have the opportunity to keep up with the rest of the world.”
Rwanda relies on electric motorcycles to reduce emissions
© 2022 AFP
Citation: Sudan’s electric rickshaws cut cost, help environment (2022, May 4), retrieved May 4, 2022 from https://techxplore.com/news/2022-05-sudan-electric-rickshaws-environment.html
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