Solar-powered tricycles offer solution to transport problems in rural Zimbabwe

Small-scale dairy farmer Matius Khumbula has a new joy in his daily routine.

The 70-year-old who hails from Domboshava, a rural community located 30 kilometres from Harare, previously had to physically carry 60 litres of milk daily over 5km from his homestead to a collection point where he sells milk to the biggest dairy farm in Zimbabwe. Now he and his wife are spared the heavy physical labour, thanks to a solar-powered tricycle.

Before, my wife and I had to make numerous trips carrying buckets of milk on our heads. It was time-consuming and tiring. With the e-tricycle, my work is so much easier, and I have time to do other things around the house,” said Khumbula.

According to the latest Zimbabwean census, 67 per cent of the population is rural-based. Road networks are poor, making it difficult for the rural population to access essential services like clinics and business centres and for those in the agricultural sector to deliver their goods and services on time.

Now, a company that has started building electronic tricycles is offering to alter this narrative.

The off-road three-wheelers are being offered by Mobility for Africa (MFA), a company registered in Mauritius and operating in Zimbabwe. It provides environmentally sustainable mobility services to rural communities, particularly women.

The e-tricycle is a custom-built electric tricycle powered by swappable solar-charged battery packs, as a fleet system with a central charging station.

The tough, sturdy renewable energy-charged tricycles allow marginalised and low-income families to overcome distances to services and contribute to dynamic local economies. MFA imports the semi-knocked-down kits from China and assembles them in Harare, Zimbabwe.