Ghana and four other African countries are set to benefit from a USAID fund for Bicycles for Growth Initiative aimed at increasing access in rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced in a press statement today, October 18, 2021, two awards totalling $3.5 million for the Bicycles for Growth Initiative. This program aims to improve sustainable access to affordable bicycles in sub-Saharan Africa.
The awards will support research on the supply, demand, and supporting systems for access to bicycles in Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.
The USAID said in the statement that the Awards will go through two stages, of which the first is the assessment phase. Based on the results of the assessment phase, the teams will then implement pilot projects in four to six localities across two of these countries with the goal of reducing barriers to increase supply and uptake of low-cost, durable, and adjustable bicycles. The Bicycle for Growth Initiative represents a simple, but effective approach to addressing a common development challenge, the USAID said.
USAID to partner tow other institutions
With USAID support, J.E. Austin Associates and World Bicycle Relief will work together to increase mobility in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa, the USAID disclosed. The USAID and its partnering Agencies aimed to achieve this by developing and demonstrating means to rapidly increase bicycle uptake for individuals who cannot afford or do not have access to other means of transportation. By doing this, the agencies believe, it will help to facilitate the opportunity for higher incomes, and better health and education outcomes.
The USAID stated in the statement that many communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa struggle to access health services, education, economic opportunities, and basic social services due to long distances and limited transportation options.
“For rural communities, these challenges are particularly acute. Walking is the main mode of transportation in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Bicycles can provide an affordable, accessible, reliable, and efficient alternative to walking, offering more carrying capacity and easier access to necessary destinations”.The USAID
Low access to transportation in rural SSA
The USAID highlighted that more than 70 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s rural residents traverse long distances without access to roads or transportation to commute to work, transport goods to market, travel to school, or obtain medical care.
The World Bicycle Relief is committed to helping people conquer the challenge of distance, achieve independence and thrive. Most of Africa’s cities have very limited public transport systems, relying on chiefly diesel-powered mini-buses and motorcycles, some of which use 2-stroke engines and are significant polluters. In Rwanda, the country is overcrowded with old dirty motorcycles serving as public transportation solutions. Bicycles provide an alternative and affordable means of transport in most remote areas on the African continent.
For Zambia, this is the second time in just five days that it is benefiting from an assistance from the USAID. Just last week, USAID announced an additional $11.3 million in assistance for Zambia to strengthen democracy and governance and support small and medium sized agribusiness enterprises.