Year/Course: 2021-2022
Global i-Team: Nairobi

Project Contact: Judy Komen, Solar E-Cycles
Mentor: TBC

Solar E-Cycles is a Nairobi-based startup which was founded in 2015 with the goal of decentralising access to energy.

Solar E-Cycles were the first company in Kenya to promote the concept of electrical mobility and have developed two separate products so far. The first is a prototype for a solar-powered tricycle which has a built-in solar panel, and the second is an electrical bicycle with a battery, motor and charger. They can also convert existing bicycles into electric bicycles, with the battery size and cost customised to the customer’s usage requirements. All products are assembled locally.

Electrical bicycles and tricycles enable the rider to switch between pedalling and resting and also make it easier to ride up hills. The solar-powered version generates its own electricity and will not have any running costs for fuel. The battery version will have ongoing electricity costs from charging the battery.

The company is currently investigating two main areas where the cycles would be used. The first is in rural locations, for example allowing small farmers to transport their goods locally or making water transport easier and quicker. The second is for urban delivery riders as an alternative to manual bicycles or motorcycles.

The challenge for the i-Team is to identify and research possible uses for the solar-powered tricycle and the battery-powered bicycle by interviewing relevant organisations and experts, as well as analysing the competitive environment. What is the situation in other countries where use of electric bicycles is more widespread, and how can Solar E-Cycles learn from those experiences? When would an electric bicycle or a solar-powered tricycle be a better solution than a motorcycle? And what steps should Solar E-Cycles take next in their company growth?