Rwanda’s Ampersand raises $19.5m to scale EV transport
Ampersand has raised $19.5 million in a funding round led by the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) and participation from Acumen and the Hard Edged Hope Fund. This is in addition to a $7.5 million debt facility from Cygnum Capital's Africa Go Green Fund which also includes a S.A.F.E. round featuring several investors.
Founded in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2016, Ampersand introduced electric motorcycles to Africa in May 2019. With an impressive four-year track record, the company's motorcycles have collectively covered 180 million kilometers, preventing 8,000 tons of carbon emissions. It currently caters to 1,700 electric motorcycle riders through battery swaps. These riders collectively traverse 1.4 million kilometers weekly in Kigali and Nairobi, facilitated by 140,000 monthly battery swaps.
The equity funds secured by Ampersand will be directed towards expediting product development, while a combination of debt and equity will support the expansion of Ampersand's battery swap network. Research and development efforts will concentrate on enhancing Ampersand's next-generation batteries and battery-swap technology.
The global momentum toward the acceptance of electric vehicles (EVs) is evident, with over 11 million registered EVs worldwide in 2020, and projections anticipate a significant increase to 145 million by 2030. Despite this, progress in Africa has been comparatively slower. Currently, EV adoption remains low, mostly comprising private vehicles. However, recent developments indicate a potential shift in this landscape. The recently launched Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network in Nairobi, exclusively designed for green vehicles, signals a commitment to sustainable transportation. Additionally, initiatives by EV startups like BasiGo and Ampersand contribute to the growing interest in electric mobility. The startup’s raise and planned expansion aim to meet the surging demand from delivery and taxi motorcycle riders in Africa seeking to transition from conventional fuel-powered to electric motorcycles.