Blog

#EcoTravels: Ivory Coast looks to go green, replacing bush taxis with cute solar cars

  • Posted by: energysa
  • Category: Uncategorized

#EcoTravels: Ivory Coast looks to go green, replacing bush taxis with cute solar cars

Hi-tech, cheap – and quiet. The Ivorian resort of Jacqueville just outside Abidjan is betting on solar-powered three-wheelers as it looks to replace traditional but noisy and dirty bush taxis.

“It’s cheaper and relaxing!” says local trader Sandrine Tetelo, of the Chinese-made “Saloni” or “Antara” tricycles, which could eventually spell the end for old-school “woro-woro” four-wheelers as Jacqueville looks to make itself Ivory Coast’s premier eco-city.

he mini-cars, 2.7 metres long and two metres high, are covered in solar panels each fitted out with six 12-volt batteries, giving the vehicles a range of 140 kilometres.

Returning from a visit to China, the solar cars’ promoter Marc Togbe pitched his plan to mayor Joachim Beugre, who was immediately sold.

“We are used to seeing (typically old and beaten up) bush taxis pollute the atmosphere and the environment. We said to ourselves, if we could only replace them by solar trikes,” said Beugre.

Solar pioneers?

“The adventure started in January with two little cars,” added Togbe, who has created a partnership with local businessman Balla Konate.

“I went to China with a friend,” says Konate, “and afterwards I sent four youngsters to Lome for training with a friend who had spoken to me about the project.”

He wants to extend operations to Odienne and Korhogo, towns in the north, the country’s sunniest region.

“Today, a dozen cars are up and running. We are right in the test phase. More and more people are asking for them,” says Beugre, seeing a chance to kill several birds with one solar stone.

Long isolated, his town, nestled between a laguna and the sea, has flourished in terms of real estate and tourism since the 2015 inauguration of a bridge linking Jacqueville to the mainland and cutting transit time to Abidjan to less than an hour.

For the start of the school year in October, Jacqueville plans to bring on stream a 22-seater “solar coach” designed to help deal with “the thorny issue of pupils’ transport”.

Many schoolchildren typically have to travel tens of kilometres from their home village to urban schools.

So far, the trikes have also provided work for around 20 people including drivers and mechanics.

Price pull

“It’s pleasant for doing your shopping more quickly,” says an impressed passenger, Aholia Guy Landry, after riding in a vehicle which can carry four people, driver included.

A big plus is the 100 CFA francs (about R2,59 at 38,76 CFA/R) price of a trip – half a typical downtown “woro-woro” fare – helping to attract between 500 and 1000 people a day, according to the town hall and promoter.

A switch to solar and durables may appear paradoxical in Jacqueville, however, as the area produces the lion’s share of the country’s gas and oil.

 

The wells outside the town produce 235 million cubic feet of gas per day, while several foreign firms run pipelines taking oil and gas across the town to feed the refineries at Abidjan.

Eco city

But the municipality – total budget 140 million CFA francs (about R3 605) – sees none of the profits, an issue which has drawn public ire in the past.

The 50-million-CFA trike project is just one piece in a much larger jigsaw which includes the construction of a new eco-city on a 240-hectare site among coconut trees.

Author: energysa

Leave a Reply

No Comments