Bamboo bikes factory set to put Africa into motion

The first large-scale production facility of its kind in the world will soon begin producing bikes made from bamboo for the African market.

Initially, Ghana-based Bamboo Bikes Limited (BBL) will produce 750 bikes for a test run at its facility in Kumasi with larger-scale production runs to follow.

Bamboo is grown locally in many regions of Africa and the manufacturing of bicycle frames does not require costly infrastructure or electricity. Bamboo-framed bicycles are lighter and stronger than steel-framed bikes, adaptable to difficult road conditions and can be easily modified for different needs, such as carrying farm loads, passengers, food, water and medicine.

The production of the bamboo bikes at BBL is a direct result of Columbia University’s Bamboo Bike Project (BBP), which was established at Columbia University’s Earth Institute to enhance access to safe, reliable and multi-purpose transportation in rural communities of sub-Saharan Africa.

The effort was supported by the Earth Institute’s Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI), which helps under-resourced sub-Saharan African cities create employment and foster economic growth.

MCI was instrumental in establishing the bamboo bike investment in Ghana, attracting donors such as the UK Charities Trust and the Tides Foundation, as well as facilitating many of the operational aspects of the project.

In Ghana, BBL will be responsible for managing the production facility and supplying the labour, bamboo and bike parts for the production test run and subsequent scale-up. It will be responsible for all operational matters, as well as marketing and outreach efforts in Ghana.

Included within the many groups that could benefit from bamboo bikes are healthcare workers, students and farmers.