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By Daniel Metaferiya & Kaleab Girma

After years of evolving regulations, the Addis Ababa city administration is implementing a complete ban on fuel motorcycles, phasing them out in favor of electric ones. 

The news made public today, April 3, 2024, by the Addis Ababa Transport Bureau states that petrol-motorcycle owners will be given some time to adapt to the new requirements and buy the EV motors that could cost upward of 150,000 birr.

In addition, the ban, implemented through a new directive also prohibits the use of motorcycles for personal transportation, regardless of their fuel source as well as the carrying of passengers.

“No new licenses will be issued for fuel-powered motorcycles and existing motorcycles must be converted to electric models within the timeframe set by the authorities,” reads the statement shared by the Bureau.  

This decision follows a period of shifting policies that signaled the city’s growing reservations towards motorcycles.

A timeline of past regulations:

2019: Motorcycles were completely banned in Addis Ababa.

Later in 2019: The ban was relaxed, with mandatory GPS installation required on all motorcycles.

2020: City stops issuing private (Code-2) plates for motorcycles.

2022: A new restriction was introduced, prohibiting motorcyclists from carrying passengers.

2023: Mandatory digital identification became a prerequisite for all motorcycle drivers in Addis Ababa.

Additionally, motorcycles face temporary bans during significant events like the annual AU meeting and national holidays. Motorcycles were outright banned from the streets of Addis Ababa for over 30 days last year. Officials have repeatedly stated that the ban is for safety reasons.

With over 20,000 motorcycles in Addis Ababa, primarily engaged in the delivery business, numerous businesses rely on them for efficient item delivery.

Sisay Birhane, who has been working with his TVS Apache motorbike for over eight years, finds the new rule shocking. Sisay told Shega that he and his fellow delivery riders are already facing significant challenges due to the consistent ban.

“I don’t know how someone can afford an electric bike if they can’t even sell their old motorbike in the capital,” he said. “It might be better if the government took our motorbikes and replaced them with electric bikes.”

“If it’s mandatory, we can’t do anything but follow,” Sisay reluctantly added. “There’s not much we can do about the rule. We’ve been paying our taxes and everything the authorities ask for. I don’t understand why we’re facing so many problems.”

Rosa Kassa, Coordinator at the Ethiopian Couriers Association, told Shega that while it’s better to have a clear road map for companies to navigate, the implication would be very difficult for many motorcyclists in the capital who struggle to make ends meet.

The Ministry of Transport and Logistics has recently announced that the number of imported and domestically assembled electric vehicles in Ethiopia has surpassed 100,000.

The national agenda for green energy has also allowed the duty-free importation of electric vehicle (EV) parts to promote EV use. Last month, Dodai, an Addis Ababa-based electric vehicle EV startup, secured $4 million in its Series A round, marking one of the largest amounts raised by startups in Ethiopia in a single round.

For Dodai, Addis Ababa’s new electric motorbike directive brings mixed feelings.

“While the directive represents a positive step towards transportation electrification, questions remain regarding the exclusion of private electric motorcycles, a potential solution for a million commuters who face 3-4 hours of commutes by minibus,” said Yuma Sasaki, the founder and CEO of Dodai,

“A thriving electric motorbike scene could offer at least 100,000 jobs in Addis Ababa alone and save hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel costs for the country if electric motorbike transportation is allowed without a series of restrictions currently imposed.”

Additionally, as the next step, Yuma mentions streamlining the process of obtaining number plates within a day without hassle, similar to those in Europe and Asia, can accelerate the shift.

“Collaboration is key for a smooth, inclusive transition to a cleaner, more prosperous Addis Ababa,” Yuma told Shega.

The impact of the green transition extends beyond motorcycle owners. Two weeks ago, Wazema Radio reported that after months of hesitation, the Ethiopian government has implemented a ban on the importation of fuel-powered vehicles for private use.



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