Who, What & Where

  • Mobility for Africa
  • Hamba fleet mobility solution
  • Chipinge, Zimbabwe


The Company

By leveraging technological and manufacturing expertise from the revolution taking place in electric transport, Mobility for Africa will produce low-cost quality renewable electric tricycles, bicycles and small scale vehicles built for a rural off road environment. Branded under “Mobility for Africa", the transport will be designed to cater to the user’s need for local mobility, provide long term and low interest financing to make them accessible and invest in the longer term off grid community based renewable power solutions. Accordingly, the mission is to create renewable community-based transport solutions for Africa that is affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly.


The Challenge

The lack of access to reliable, safe and efficient last-mile solutions in rural Africa is a key barrier to socio-economic and healthcare improvements.

Physical isolation prevents large areas of the continent from reaching their true agricultural potential. A farm’s profits will never increase without the ability to transport produce to markets. Poor terrain means that urban transport solutions are not fit for purpose: fewer than 40% of rural Africans live within 2 km of an all-season road.

Designs of existing transport options are tailored to men and exclude women. Rural women spend long hours carrying heavy loads to market with crops rotting in the process, women die during childbirth due to lack of access to a health centre, children cannot access education and economic opportunities are missed due to the considerable distances from resources.

Available modes of transport are flawed: second-hand cars are costly economically (purchasing and operating) and environmentally (running on fossil fuels), bicycles/motorcycles limit the ability to carry heavier items, bike/trailer alternatives like tuk-tuks are not suitable for rural off-road needs.

Other challenges:

  • Limited funding to test new models and R&D
  • Threats of competition from substitute products and unregulated industry
  • Local skills development
  • Lack of a policy framework to regulate the EV space in the country was addressed by working with and advising the Zimbabwean government on their e-transport policy


Renewable Solution

MFA leases out and finances a fully serviced fleet of GPS-enabled three-wheeled electric vehicles (hambas) as a safe and robust alternative to withstand the unique off-road conditions and is energy- efficient. This solution will be able to service the daily transport needs of farmers, move larger quantities of commodities to the market and do so at reasonable costs. MFA also provides all the after-care services to ensure that the farmers and other users are never immobile.

Max capacity of vehicle(s) Up to 400 kg
Decision on target market
  • Small-scale dairy farmers were targeted due to their daily needs to commute to the dairy collection which needed affordable and environmentally friendly mobility solutions
  • Farmers for Dairibord to support them with efficient milk collection to avoid wastage and enhance income for locals
Local community engagement
  • Established partnerships with WeEffect, ZDFA and Dairibord
  • Identified communities with suitable customers
  • Introducing chosen participants to training such as MFA’s driver training programme
Energy requirements for individual vehicles 5 kW for each battery
Max operating distance per single charge 100 km
Battery type Tailor-made 48 V Li-ion battery
Inhouse DRE capacity to power e-mobility solution
  • MFA has installed a purpose-built charging station to enable battery swapping
  • The charging station with DRE powers 50 tricycles
  • 15 kW solar system designed and installed on site, comprising 48 by 535 W monochromatic solar panels and supporting hardware
  • The standardised nature of this model is highly beneficial and replicable
  • Currently, 25 tricycles are deployed, with expansion in the process
Energy storage & backup power The batteries themselves can be utilised as backup power when needed


Project Financing and Costs

900,000 EUR (grant), 350,000 EUR (equity)

  • We Effect (development partner)
  • Zimbabwe Diary Farmers Association (ZDFA) (local partner)
  • Dairibord (local partner)
  • Zenergy (technology provider)
  • Toyota Mobility Foundation (financier)
  • EEP Africa (financier)
  • AECF (financier)
  • Dubai Expo Live (financier)


Project Outcome

  • MFA strives to bring behavioural change surrounding sustainable mobility, increasing green jobs opportunities, especially for women (24 full-time employees)
  • Women in rural areas benefited from blended finance from a range of stakeholders, enabling these women to pay an affordable price for mobility as a service
  • Healthcare campaigns using hambas have increased the number of people reached, treated and minimised vast walking distances
  • Provided employment and capacity building for local agents in driving, repairs, maintenance, renewable energy and battery management
  • Created incentives for people to stay in rural areas rather than move to urban areas in search of work and employment
  • Estimated 6 t CO2e/year saved
  • Tailor-made 48 V Li-ion battery, can plug into the hamba as well as a range of farm appliances


Key Recommendations

  • Long-term investment and patient capital local R&D, capacity building, market testing and demonstrating proof of concept
  • Challenge of fragmentation in policy decision-making in e-mobility as it requires the involvement of many different Ministries from the Industry, Transport, Energy and Local Government that requires building alliances with different public and private stakeholders


Shantha Bloemen