Solar E-Cycles for Africa: CEO Robert Christen’s Reply to My Article

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Yesterday I wrote this article concerning the Solar E Cycle, a project to bring solar powered electric transportation to Africa. Therein, I questioned the decision to use lead acid batteries. After reaching out to Robert Christen by email, he explained his reasoning to me (and I was given permission to reproduce his reply here).

So there you have it. I personally believe the temperatures in Africa don’t exceed what a LiFePO4 eBike battery pack can tolerate, but I accept some of his other claims concerning the ease of recycling lead batteries in Africa versus recycling lithium batteries.

He has also made it clear this is a business, not a charity, and that the vehicles are rent to own so that there exists the possibility for families to pay one off over time, and thereafter have an ongoing source of free electricity for their home. The payback period is 18 months however by which time the batteries will be dead or nearly so, but the panel will still be fine.

How do I feel about it now, having gotten more info straight from the source? Better, honestly. There’s serious thought going into ensuring that this is a success, and because it’s a business rather than a charitable endeavor, Robert and his partner have a personal stake in ensuring it succeeds.

More to come as the story develops.

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