A sustainable, solar-powered minibus for Dakar!
The goal of EcoCar Solaire is to convert Dakar’s fossil-powered shared taxis into solar-powered cars solaires, offering a large portion of the Senegalese metropolis' inhabitants environmentally-friendly mobility. With this solution, everyone can afford to travel to work, school or university without causing any pollution harmful to climate and public health, and female market vendors can have goods to be sold at the local market transported.
The Senegalese authorities have agreed to make the minibuses available to the project. But it is the responsibility of EcoCar Solaire to secure the vehicles in Senegal until the conversion into cars solaires can take place locally, and to organize the transportation of two pilot buses. With 15,000 CHF of the first stage of funding, we can salvage the remaining cars rapides from being scrapped by the governmental program and have the first two minibuses transported to Switzerland for the pilot construction at Ökozentrum.
Compared to the cost of production and large-scale expansion, the necessary process of development and testing of a pilot bus conversion is complex and cost-intensive. With the second stage of funding (20,000 CHF), we can cover the cost of materials and make the first car solaire ready for the test trip from Zurich to Dakar!
In order to gain sufficient information from the development process and the first test trip from Zurich to Dakar, we wish to convert a second minibus into a car solaire. For this, an additional 20,000 CHF are needed.
The test trip from Zurich to Dakar should be conducted using solar energy only. In order to supply the pilot buses with solar power while on the road, the EcoCar Solaire team wants to take along a solar tent. Wherever the bus stops, the tent will also provide shade and serve as a gathering place. With this final funding stage of 10,000 CHF we can prove that it is fully possible to travel in a car solaire from Zurich to Dakar without using any form of fossil fuel!
For this transportation system to be able to continue contributing to the well-being of social and economic structures in Dakar, the MUSEKE Association, in collaboration with the project initiator mandu|architexture & urbanizm, engineers from Ökozentrum and other partners, has decided to take action. The goal is to prevent the cars rapides from being scrapped and to, instead, convert them into vehicles run on renewable energy. EcoCar Solaire sees itself as a beacon for a sustainable and inclusive means of transport for a growing African city.
But, the robust cars rapides are to be replaced by a new official bus transportation system. Unfortunately, the new buses service different routes and are equally diesel-powered and therefore add to the already alarming levels of air pollution.
What's more, without the cars rapides, it will become impossible for the market place vendors – mainly women – to supply the informal sectors with the basic stock of food such as vegetables and fish, simply because the introduced new bus system will not drive to those areas, or accept the transport any goods.
This would have a fatal impact not only on the infrastructure and knowledge built up over the decades by the cars rapides operators, drivers and repair garages. Dakar would also lose a part of Senegal's cultural heritage and some 30,000 jobs, which depend on the car rapides transport system – reasons enough for introducing the car solaire as an alternative solution!
Together with Senegalese solar companies and the CETUD, the Executive Council of Public Transport of Dakar, EcoCar Solaire will build up a network of solar-power stations where the new minibuses can recharge their batteries with renewable energy.
Operationally, the cars solaires will be managed by a cooperative formed by the association of car rapide bus drivers. This will make sure the knowledge and expertise gathered over the years in the informal mobility sector can be maintained.
But we are running out of time. According to a government program, many of the existing cars rapides are currently being scrapped. The sooner we act, the more of the remaining minibuses can be salvaged and secured for the EcoCar Solaire project.
For us to be able to secure the minibuses, organise the transport to Switzerland and buy the material needed to build two pilot buses, we need your help!
Thanks to your financial contribution, we can create a totally new and modern way of mobility for urban Africa, without compromising the environment or the inhabitants!
Together we can create a chapter in history for the benefit of the environment and future generations!
By promoting sustainable and innovative solutions as well as bringing new impulses to sustainable urban development, the MUSEKE Association wants to counteract the steadily increasing inequalities faced by the rapidly growing cities of the South. In parallel to this, participatory development processes must be strengthened and social equity ensured.
With its projects, the MUSEKE Association also commits to climate protection and environmental objectives and strongly advocates a thrifty and efficient use of available resources, as well as sustainable production with local value added, with benefits to everyone.
It was first in Luanda and then in Dakar that I got to know the share taxis called Kandongueiros and cars rapides. I was very impressed. These fully self-organised informal transportation systems meet the challenge to bring a large part of the city inhabitants to their working places and to provide transportation for the city markets. Based on the idea to develop a more sustainable means of transport, the EcoCar Solaire project was born. To me, when developing sustainable, urban mobility, it is essential for it to build on the local entrepreneurs and strengthen the social and economic structure of the city.
As Head of the Research and Development Division at Ökozentrum, I specialise in cars with electrical drive. The biggest motivation for me to participate in this project is to use the knowledge we have built up in this area at the Ökozentrum for the realization of a sustainable project in Dakar, therefore contributing towards global climate justice.
Successful business processes require solid financial and administrative structures. This is most familiar to me as Division Head at the Office for Economy and Labour in Zurich, fiduciary and consultant. It is with keen interest that I administer such a meaningful project as EcoCar Solaire.
From the very beginning, we at the MUSEKE Association have been convinced by the EcoCar Solaire project. In particular, we find the approach of using existing economic structures and available know-how in combination with modern, environmentally-friendly technologies, very appealing. It is an innovative concept very much worthy of support.
My role in this project is to strengthen the exchange between North and South and encourage the knowledge transfer in both directions, thus making the project successful in the long term.
The car rapide is not only a means of transport; it also represents a social and economic institution. In order to develop a sustainable means of transport for a city in Africa, merely introducing a new technology isn´t enough: The society involved must be included in the process. With my expertise in the area of participatory processes, I can make a vital contribution. My task will be to facilitate a mutual exchange of information and ideas between various stakeholders and experts, in order to ensure a successful project implementation by matching the well-established system of cars rapides with the renewable technologies of EcoCar Solaire.