Rwanda Turns To Electric Motorbikes To Drive Down Emissions

Map of Rwanda

 

When Rwandan motorcycle taxi driver Evode Niyorurema converted his fuel guzzler to an electric motorbike, he had no idea he was on the frontlines of the East African nation’s fight against climate change.

“The reason I switched to an electric motorbike is that I wanted to avoid fuel costs, which are always rising, and also the cost of going to the garage all the time (for servicing),” the 37-year-old told AFP.

The firm responsible for revamping his ride, Rwanda Electric Motors Ltd, has converted around 80 motorcycle taxis so far — the most common form of public transport in the capital Kigali — and developed another 200 brand-new electric motorbikes for use.

The project, which is funded by Rwanda’s government and the United Nations Development Programme, is part of an ambitious national push to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 16 percent by 2030 and a further 38 percent over the following decade.

In July the government waived import taxes on electric and hybrid vehicles as well as equipment used by charging stations, saying it hoped the move would accelerate Rwanda’s transition from fuel-based transport and “reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

Rwanda Electric Motors CEO Donald Kabanda told AFP his pitch to riders rested on the long-term affordability of electric vehicles.

He said a single electric battery charge could cover up to 60 kilometres (37 miles) compared to 35 kilometres for a litre of petrol.

It costs around 900 Rwandan francs (87 US cents) to charge the battery compared to around 1,000 Rwandan francs for a litre of petrol, he added.

“So if you compare economically there is an advantage for the riders,” Kabanda said.

In addition to his firm, two Kigali-based companies Ampersand and Safi Moto also assemble electric motorbikes, while German giant Volkswagen began importing electric vehicles in October 2019 for its ride-hailing platform Move.

 Low demand

Although taxes on non-electric imported vehicles run high in Rwanda — between 40 to 80 per cent — demand for electric or hybrid cars remains low, despite the fact that they cost less than their fuel-guzzling counterparts.

Kigali-based Victoria Motors told AFP it had sold just 37 hybrid vehicles between 2019 and 2020, mainly to NGOs and private firms.

With Rwanda’s GDP per capita amounting to less than $800 according to the World Bank, electric vehicles are out of reach for the vast majority of its 13 million people.

Instead, the government is looking to public transport as the main driver of change.

The authorities plan to convert 30 per cent of motorcycles, 20 per cent of buses and 25 per cent of mini and micro-buses to electric power by 2030.

But with few charging stations set up across the country, travelling long distances by electric vehicles is still a challenge, said motorcycle taxi driver Niyorurema.

“They move so well and quietly compared to the fuel motorbikes. The only problem… is that the distance they cover is relatively small.”

AFP

Rwanda Bans Flights With Southern Africa Over COVID-19 Fears

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame speaks during a joint press conference with French President at the Presidential Palace in Kigali on May 27, 2021. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

 

Rwanda has barred direct flights to and from nine countries in southern Africa, joining a growing list of nations that have imposed travel restrictions over a new, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant.

The new variant, dubbed Omicron, was first reported in South Africa last week, with cases subsequently detected in several countries, and many governments have moved swiftly to reimpose containment measures.

Direct flights between Rwanda and southern Africa will be temporarily suspended “effective immediately,” Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente announced late Sunday.

“While the variant has not been detected in Rwanda, its effects are potentially dangerous,” Ngirente said in a statement, urging extra vigilance.

The countries affected by the ban are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

All passengers who have arrived from those countries in the past seven days have to spend a week in quarantine, at their own costs, in designated hotels in Rwanda, according to the announcement.

Rwanda, a country of 13 million people, will also reimpose a mandatory 24-hour quarantine for all passengers.

The East African country has enforced some of the strictest containment measures on the continent and implemented a rigorous regime of testing and contact-tracing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday that the new variant poses a “very high” risk globally.

Even if the new strain proves to be less deadly than previous ones, it could put more pressure on hospitals if it spreads more easily, it said.

“If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by Omicron, consequences may be severe,” WHO said in a technical note, adding that “to date, no deaths linked to Omicron variant have been reported.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday protested the “unjustified” travel bans and called for their immediate reversal.

“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” Ramaphosa said.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera on his part accused Western countries of “Afrophobia” for shutting their borders.

The head of the WHO in Africa also cautioned against border closures.

“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” WHO regional director general Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.

Dozens of nations including Africa’s Angola and Mauritius have imposed travel restrictions since South African scientists flagged Omicron on Thursday.

Omicron Variant: Rwanda Bans Flights To Southern African Countries

File photo of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame in Kigali, on May 28, 2021. (Photo by Simon Wohlfahrt / AFP)

 

Rwanda has barred direct flights to and from nine countries in southern Africa, joining a growing list of nations that have imposed travel restrictions over a new, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant. 

The new variant, dubbed Omicron, was first reported in South Africa last week, with cases subsequently detected in several countries, and many governments have moved swiftly to reimpose containment measures.

Direct flights between Rwanda and southern Africa will be temporarily suspended “effective immediately,” Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente announced late Sunday.

“While the variant has not been detected in Rwanda, its effects are potentially dangerous,” Ngirente said in a statement, urging extra vigilance.

The countries affected by the ban are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

All passengers who have arrived from those countries in the past seven days have to spend a week in quarantine, at their own costs, in designated hotels in Rwanda, according to the announcement.

Rwanda, a country of 13 million people, will also reimpose a mandatory 24-hour quarantine for all passengers.

The East African country has enforced some of the strictest containment measures on the continent and implemented a rigorous regime of testing and contact tracing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday that the new variant poses a “very high” risk globally.

Even if the new strain proves to be less deadly than previous ones, it could put more pressure on hospitals if it spreads more easily, it said.

“If another major surge of Covid-19 takes place driven by Omicron, consequences may be severe,” WHO said in a technical note, adding that “to date, no deaths linked to Omicron variant have been reported.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday protested the “unjustified” travel bans and called for their immediate reversal.

“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our southern African sister countries to immediately and urgently reverse their decisions,” Ramaphosa said.

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera on his part accused Western countries of “Afrophobia” for shutting their borders.

The head of the WHO in Africa also cautioned against border closures.

“With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” WHO regional director general Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.

Dozens of nations including Africa’s Angola and Mauritius have imposed travel restrictions since South African scientists flagged Omicron on Thursday.

AFP

Rwandan YouTuber And Govt Critic Jailed For Seven Years

Rwanda flag.

 

 

A Rwandan dissident who used his YouTube channel to criticise the government has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a court in Kigali.

Dieudonne Niyonsenga is just the latest government critic with a YouTube audience to be jailed in the tightly controlled East African nation, ruled by the same leader for nearly three decades.

“We are appealing this verdict against Niyonsenga with immediate effect. It is simply not right,” his lawyer Gatera Gashabana said on Friday.

Niyonsenga, whose YouTube channel Ishema TV had amassed more than 15 million views, was found guilty on Thursday on four charges including forgery, impersonation, and “humiliating” state officials.

“The court finds that the crimes Niyonsenga is accused of were committed intentionally,” the judge said in delivering the verdict and a fine of five million Rwandan francs ($4,900).

“Due to the adverse consequences that his crimes have had on Rwandan society, the court orders that Dieudonne Niyonsenga be immediately arrested and taken to serve his jail sentence.”

Niyonsenga was not present in court and shortly after the verdict, the YouTube star was arrested.

“It is true that Dieudonne Niyonsenga was arrested yesterday in execution of the court judgment. He is in the process of being transferred” to prison, Thierry Murangira, spokesman for the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, told AFP.

READ ALSO: Rwandan Police Arrest YouTubers, Opposition Members For ‘Spreading Rumours’

Niyonsenga, better known by his YouTube persona Cyuma, which means “Iron”, was known for discussing human rights abuses on his channel.

In April 2020 he broadcast a series of videos accusing soldiers of serious abuses against slum dwellers during the enforcement of a strict coronavirus lockdown.

Shortly afterward, he was arrested and charged with violating the lockdown and impersonating a journalist and sent to prison.

He was acquitted and released 11 months later but prosecutors appealed to a higher court.

His jailing comes weeks after another high-profile critic with a YouTube following was sent to prison.

Yvonne Idamange, a mother of four, was jailed for 15 years in October for inciting violence online.

Aimable Karasira, a university lecturer with a YouTube channel, was arrested in June and charged with genocide denial, a serious crime in Rwanda.

He had accused the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which has ruled the country since 1994 under its leader Paul Kagame, of trampling on human rights.

The crackdown on YouTube creators has had a chilling effect in Rwanda, where independent media has been quashed and other forms of free expression are strictly monitored by the government.

Another YouTuber with a popular following told AFP a government official warned them to stop “this YouTube nonsense or face the consequences”.

AFP

Rwandan Police Arrest YouTubers, Opposition Members For ‘Spreading Rumours’

A file photo used to illustrate the story.

 

Rwandan police on Thursday announced the arrest of six people including the owner of a popular YouTube channel and three opposition party members for “spreading rumours” intended to undermine the government. 

The arrests came two weeks after a court sentenced a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to 15 years in prison for “inciting violence” following her criticism of President Paul Kagame.

In the latest round-up Wednesday, police took six people into custody including Nsengimana Theoneste, the owner of Umubavu TV — a YouTube channel with over 16 million views, which has previously urged Rwandans to denounce human rights abuses allegedly instigated by the government against citizens.

“They are an organised group with the intention to spread rumours intended to cause uprising or unrest among the population using different social media platforms,” Thierry Murangira, spokesman for the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), told AFP Thursday.

In a statement Wednesday, RIB urged Rwandans to be wary of social media commentators seeking to “undermine national security” and the government.

“Anyone arrested will be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” it added.

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 ‘Intimidation’ 

Three of those arrested belong to the unregistered Dalfa Umurunzi (Development and Liberty for All) opposition party, said leader and founder Victoire Ingabire.

“I take this as intimidation,” she told AFP.

“I don’t know what the rumours they are arrested for are about.”

Ingabire returned from exile in 2010 to run against Kagame, but was arrested and jailed for eight years on terrorism charges, a term later extended to 15 years. She was released by presidential pardon in 2018.

Several people have fallen foul of Rwandan authorities after turning to YouTube to publish content critical of the Kagame government, raising concern among international rights groups.

Last month Yvonne Idamage, a 42-year-old mother of four, was convicted of six charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 after she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship.

Rwanda, ruled by Kagame since the end of the 1994 genocide which left some 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsi dead, has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali’s crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs — notably the impact of strict anti-Covid measures which have hit the poor hard — have been threatened, arrested or prosecuted in the past year.

AFP

Rwandan YouTuber Jailed For 15 Years After Anti-Kagame Posts

Yvonne Idamange/YouTube

 

A Rwandan court on Thursday sentenced a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to 15 years in prison for “inciting violence” after she hit out at President Paul Kagame on her channel.

Yvonne Idamange is one of a number of people who have fallen foul of the authorities after turning to the video-sharing platform to publish content critical of the Kagame government, raising concern among international rights groups.

The 42-year-old mother of four, who was not in court for the verdict, was convicted of six charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 — less than the 30 years and $6,000 sought by the prosecution.

Idamange, who survived the 1994 genocide, was arrested in February for “exhibiting behaviour that mixes politics, criminality, and madness”, police said at the time.

The Kigali High Court found her guilty of inciting violence and public uprising, denigrating genocide artefacts, spreading rumours and violent assault, among other charges.

The accusations were based on comments on her popular YouTube channel “Idamange” in which she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship, and of exploiting the genocide without giving enough welfare to the survivors.

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Her YouTube channel boasts 18,900 subscribers and an average of 100,000 views per video.

Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.

Rwanda, ruled by Kagame since the end of a genocide which left some 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsi dead, has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali’s crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs — notably the impact of strict anti-Covid measures which have hit the poor hard — have been threatened, arrested, or prosecuted in the past year.

It pointed to a 2019 statement by Kagame to highlight the dangers faced by those using online platforms: “Those that you hear speak on the internet, whether they are in America, in South Africa, or in France, they think they are far.

“They are far, but they are close to the fire. The day they get closer, the fire will burn them.”

AFP

Nigeria Seeks U-19 Cricket World Cup Qualification In Rwanda

Junior Yellow-Greens, Nigeria’s Under-19 Cricket team

 

The Junior Yellow-Greens, Nigeria’s Under-19 Cricket team are in Kigali, the Rwandan capital to begin the defense of the title that earned the country her first Cricket World Cup appearance.

The team used 10 days in Harare, Zimbabwe, where they had been on a pre-tournament tour for the last leg of their preparation for the Championship. The winner will represent Africa at next year’s ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup taking place in the West Indies. South Africa and Zimbabwe have already booked their places at the event along with 13 other teams.

Team Nigeria Coach, Uthe Ogbimi, is optimistic about the level of preparation that will get his team ready for the competition.

“We are going this ICC Under-19 Africa World Qualifier as the defending champion and that puts a lot of attention on us; we know that. But our plan is to take every game on their merit. Our most important game is our next game and we are primed to give our best to every game. No team at this event is ordinary and we hope to treat everyone with such respect.” He said.

Six-time winners of the event and last edition’s runner-up, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania, and host Rwanda are the other teams competing for glory at the eight-day tournament.

Nigeria’s opening match at the event is on Friday, October 1st against host Rwanda before taking Tanzania on Sunday, October 3rd. Uganda’s encounter is set for Monday 4th before closing the event on a high against Namibia on Wednesday 6th.

The Junior Yellow-Greens is captained by Boniface Oche. Other team members include; Prosper Useni, Ridwanulahi Mohammed, Victor Ipoli, Destiny Chilemanya, Nzube Nwokike, Ridwan Kareem, Lukman Kofoworola, Joshua Sunday, Talabi Odunayo, Paul Pam, Huzaifa Abdulsalam, Theophilus Jeremiah, Isaac Onyemgba, Udekwe Chiemelie, and Elochukwu Ndubudem.

Rwanda Confirmed As Host Of 2025 World Cycling Championships

The pack rides during the Men U23 road race during the sixth day of the UCI World Championships Road Cycling Flanders 2021, in Leuven, on September 24, 2021. DIRK WAEM / BELGA / AFP

 

Cycling’s road race world championships will take place in Africa for the first time in 2025, with the sport’s governing body the UCI rubber-stamping Rwanda’s candidacy on Friday.

Rwanda enjoys a healthy cycling culture and runs an annual eight-day stage race, the Tour of Rwanda around the hilly capital of Kigali, and has been selected ahead of Morocco.

“We have 54 confederations on the African continent and it was time we thanked them for their contribution to cycling,” UCI president David Lappartient said at cycling’s annual congress.

Lappartient said when taking the post in 2017 he wanted to see Africa given a chance to host the annual event.

“Rwanda ticks all the boxes, organisational, financial and of course on a sporting level,” he said.

“We all know the passion the fans will bring in Kigali.”

“There will be a million fans out for the event, it will be amazing and bikes are a major development tool in the region.”

This year’s world championship is currently ongoing in Flanders.

Australia hosts the event in 2022, with Scotland in 2023 and Switzerland in 2024.

Volleyball: Action Resumes At African Women Nations Championship In Rwanda

 

The Government of Rwanda has agreed to properly conclude the 2021 African Women’s Senior Nations Championship.

The decision comes after deliberations with the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) and considerations of the consequences of ending the event abruptly

The tournament had earlier been called off by the Rwanda Volleyball Federation and Rwanda Ministry of Sports and all the participating teams and officials were ordered to leave the country within 24 hours.

The country also failed to make the Kigali Arena available for African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) to continue the championship for two days (Friday and Saturday).

The reaction from the hosts came after the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) released a press statement to suspend the Rwanda Volleyball team for fielding four ineligible players.

The Rwandans played the group stages with four Brazilian players who did not meet the naturalization requirements of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB).

The African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) has confirmed that the championship will continue with the final standings on day 4 when the competition was paused.

Meanwhile, in today’s early action, Kenya booked another final place after beating Morocco 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-11 Nigeria lost 0-3 (13-25, 33-35, 13-25) to defending champions Cameroon in the second semi-final match.

Nigeria had broken a 16-year semi-final jinx following their progress to the semifinals of the 2021 African Seniors Nations Championship in Rwanda on Friday. Coach Samuel Ajayi’s team will play Morocco later today in the third-place match.

Rwanda’s Kagame Slams Arsenal After Loss To Brentford

File photo: Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame reacts in front of a wreath for the 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 7, 2019. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Rwanda’s leader Paul Kagame on Saturday unloaded on his beloved Arsenal after they opened  the Premier League season with a loss to newcomers Brentford, saying Gunners fans deserve better than “mediocrity”.

The veteran president and long-time Arsenal supporter tweeted a tirade after Brentford returned to their first English top-flight season for 74 years with a 2-0 win over the Gunners on Friday evening.

Kagame, whose country is an official sponsor of Arsenal, said Brentford deserved the win but the Gunners had soul-searching to do.

“The game itself aside Arsenal and the fans don’t deserve to kind of get used to this….NO !!! I say this as one of the big fans of Arsenal. The change has taken to long to come!” the president tweeted in a three-part post-match screed to his 2.4 million followers early Saturday.

Kagame, a former rebel leader who has ruled Rwanda since the aftermath of the genocide in 1994, hammered club management over planning and questioned decision-making around the acquisition of new players.

“We just must NOT excuse or Accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with purpose to win win win. So that when we lose….it was not to be expected!” Kagame said.

“I am sure we all know on whose shoulders the heaviest burden rests. I hope they know too or even accept it!!!”

Rwanda became the official tourism partner of Arsenal in 2018, with players sporting a “Visit Rwanda” logo on their shirt sleeves during matches.

The three-year deal was aimed at drawing tourists and investors to the tiny east African nation, and burnishing its reputation as a safe, sought-after destination.

Kagame often expresses his opinions about the club’s performances during summits and on social media.

 

AFP

Rwanda Capital To Be Put Under Lockdown As COVID-19 Cases Soar

 

Rwanda will put the capital Kigali and eight other districts across the country under lockdown from Saturday to rein in surging coronavirus cases and deaths, officials said.

The restrictions will last until July 26, the office of Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Citizens are urged to significantly reduce social interactions and limit movements only to essential services,” it said.

Both public and private offices, except for those providing key services, were ordered closed.

Other measures due to come into force include a ban on outdoor sport and recreational activities, while schools will be closed and the number of people attending funerals is capped at 15.

International arrivals and tourism will however continue.

A dusk to dawn curfew introduced in June across the country remains in force.

Rwanda has up until now avoided the worst of the pandemic by enforcing some of the strictest containment measures on the continent and implementing a rigorous regime of testing and contact tracing.

But in recent weeks, cases have skyrocketed as the East African nation battles more virulent variants of the virus, including delta.

Hospitals have been overwhelmed, with a critical shortage of beds and desperately needed medicines.

The country of 13 million people has registered nearly 51,000 cases of Covid-19 of which 607 have been fatal.

But like other countries on the continent, vaccine uptake has been slow due in part to a lack of doses and public apathy.

A nationwide campaign aimed at vaccinating 60 percent of the population by next year has so far reached just 401,160 people, according to the latest government statistics.

-AFP

Rwanda Sends 1,000 Troops To Insurgency-Hit Mozambique

 

File COMVO of Rwanda and Mozambique

 

\Rwanda said on Friday it will send a thousand troops to Mozambique to help the country battle extremist militants wreaking havoc in the north of the gas-rich nation.

Islamic State-linked jihadists have been terrorising the impoverished Cabo Delgado province since late 2017, stoking fears that the violence could spill over into neighbouring countries.

“The government of Rwanda, at the request of the government of Mozambique, will today start the deployment of a 1,000-person contingent of the Rwanda Defence Force and the Rwanda National Police to Cabo Delgado Province,” Kigali said in a statement.

The forces will “support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security-sector reform”, it added.

Rwanda’s deployment follows last month’s decision by regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to send forces to help quell the insurgency.

The Rwandan contingent will work with the Mozambique Armed Defence Forces and those from SADC “in designated sectors of responsibility”, said the statement from Kigali.

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, himself a former defence minister, had for long shied away from asking for foreign military intervention to fight the jihadists, instead of relying on private military companies.

But last month he vowed to crush the militants with the help of regional allies as attacks escalated over the last year.

Rwanda is a major contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic and last year sent hundreds of troops to the unstable country after an alleged attempted coup.

-AFP