Motorcycle taxi operators can be seen everywhere in Kenya, ranging from different types of Motorcycle taxi’s, from most common Boda-Bodas to normal motorcycles used for transport. But in western Kenya’s Kisumu County various taxi operators lounge on their various machines – but Alfred Omondi’s plug-in electric scooter stands out from the rest.
Unlike most of these motorbikes which run on polluting fossil fuels, Alfred Omondi sits straddling his solar-powered rechargeable motorcycle, which uses Ecotran technology which has been developed by students from the University of Nairobi.
The brains behind the Ecotran Technology, Charles Ogingo, Robert Achoge and James Ogola – all final year students – have built a system they call Ecotran, which captures the sun’s energy, stores it in batteries, and uses it to charge a motorcycle’s electric motor.
Defying the state of electricity in the region of western Kenya, where much of the western side has no grid electricity, and the places that do face frequent power disruptions, so solar energy is a promising alternative, they say.
“We were awarded $100 000 by the United States African Development Fund and Power Africa for the ingenious innovation. It is this money that we are now using to upscale the solar project,” said Pfoofy Solar manager Achoge.
The three students have also set up a “filling” station with 40 solar photo-voltaic units, each generating 250-watts of electricity. The energy is stored in batteries before being transformed into the alternating current needed by the motorcycle. The motorbike uses a small portable battery which, fully charged, can run for 70km.
The students, who have set up a company called Pfoofy Solar, put together their system in 2014 at a climate change innovation centre at Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, where they had been sent to present their idea practically.
After successfully trying out the Ecotran technology on three locally bought motorcycles in Kisumu County’s Nyakach area early this year, the young innovators are now expanding the project, and powering 40 more bikes.
Read More: Pfoofy power