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Jacqueville, Côte d’Ivoire bets on solar transport

23.04.2019

The Ivorian city of Jacqueville is pioneering clean mobility with the launch of solar three-wheelers. And it has other ideas in the pipeline for helping people to get around.

It’s a major first in the history of Côte d’Ivoire. Jacqueville, situated on a peninsula around 50 kilometres west of the Ivorian capital Abidjan, is the first city in the country to introduce solar taxis. In January 2018, the coastal town’s mayor Joachim Beugré rolled out a fresh new mobility concept to replace the noisy, polluting and often decrepit bush taxis familiarly known as woro-woros. He unveiled two solar-roof, three-wheel vehicles equipped with six 12-volt batteries. Measuring 2.7 metres long and 2 metres high, the eco-friendly three‑wheelers can carry up to four passengers, reach a top speed of 50 km/h and deliver a range of 140 km.

Faster, cleaner and less expensive

The mini revolution is causing a stir. Thanks to these small solar vehicles, getting around is now safer, quicker and less expensive. A ride costs just 100 CFA francs, or half as much as a standard bush-taxi journey. The system’s success has encouraged Jacqueville to pursue its mobility transformation. It now has around 10 of these vehicles on the road, with a daily ridership of 500 to 1,000 people. Operated by about 20 drivers and mechanics, the solar taxis run from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on the weekend.

From taxi to solar bus

The local authorities want to take the solar mobility experience a step further. When the new school year begins in October 2019, they will introduce a 22-seat “solar bus”. The vehicle will alleviate the transport difficulties of some of the schoolchildren who live in villages dozens of kilometres from the town centre. The taxis and bus offer an example of how to harness the sun’s energy, which has been a vastly underutilised natural resource in Côte d’Ivoire until now. The country barely consumed a megawatt of solar power in 2018 but has set a target of 11% renewable energy consumption by 2020.

Addressing the mobility challenge

Mobility has become a big concern for Jacqueville, as more and more Abidjaners flock to the sea resort. On the weekend, there are an extra 2,000 to 3,000 cars on the city streets. To accommodate the fast-growing population, major infrastructure development projects are needed.

Inaugurated in 2015, the Philippe Grégoire Yacé bridge connecting the peninsula to the continent has made it possible for residents hemmed in by the lagoon and the ocean to reach Abidjan in less than an hour. In addition, a new bus terminal was opened last year to develop transport service in the Jacqueville area. Located four kilometres from the centre of town, it houses a service station and a large mechanics’ garage. A number of roads are also under construction.

Zero-carbon transport vs. gas and oil

In an area dotted with foreign-owned pipelines that produces most of the country’s oil and gas, it seems somewhat ironic that Mayor Beugré is a proponent of green mobility. The former journalist has already mapped out an extensive network of bicycle lanes for Jacqueville. In office since 2013, after being re-elected for a second term last October, he has been heading a campaign to create an environmentally sustainable city attractive to tourists. His goal is to turn Jacqueville into an ecotourism model and the leading tourist destination in Côte d’Ivoire. Improving mobility is the No. 1 priority as the city’s development takes off. Solar vehicles are just the beginning, and the future for green mobility looks bright.

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