Tech & Innovation August 09, 2022 at 12:30 pm

Jorge Appiah on how his grandmother inspired innovation behind electric motorbikes in Ghana

Stephen Nartey August 09, 2022 at 12:30 pm

August 09, 2022 at 12:30 pm | Tech & Innovation

Jorge Appiah. Photo: LinkedIn

The pioneering spirit behind his tech innovations was inspired by the desire to give his grandmother in the West African nation of Ghana an opportunity to enjoy electricity even for a day in her lifetime. This is because he grew up in a setting where electricity was considered a luxury. The only close source of energy he was used to was the flames of an old lantern owned by his family in the Eastern part of the West African nation.

Ghanaian-born tech innovator Jorge Appiah said his humble beginning is the story behind the e-mobility innovation, Solar Taxi, which builds electric motorbikes for the market in the sub-region. He said his first encounter with a computer was when he gained admission into senior high school.

According to him, he developed a strong affinity for technology when he had not even touched a computer before. On his Linkedin page, he describes himself as an e-mobility visionary. He said he owes this vision to his grandmother. Appiah explained that one of the joys he wanted to put on the face of his grandmother was to provide her with electricity.

“When I gained admission into the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, I decided I wanted to study electrical engineering. I was obsessed with finding solution to lighten up the darkness in my village in Asamankese,” he added.

That passion to change the look and feel of the flames that light his village, according to him, has given birth to a litany of innovations from the building of space balloons to drones.

The founder of Solar Taxi said together with his colleagues at college he built drones in 2013 when many people had no clue of what it is and what it does among his peers. One innovation, he recalled with satisfaction, was space balloons that went into space to collect data and fly alongside satellites.

“We were initially into these innovations for fun. We basked in the accolades we received when we go to exhibition fairs,” he intimated.

He said the realization to take their innovations a notch higher was when they were running into financial difficulties to fund their tech gadgets. According to him, many of his colleagues were graduating and were faced with the perennial conundrum of finding jobs in the choked market.

Appiah said their first startup was Kumasi Hive that sought to put their brilliant innovative ideas into marketable products. He said they have raised funding from MasterCard Foundation to push the bigger dream of assembling electric bicycles and motorbikes. They commercialized this vision in 2018.  

Solar Taxi’s e-motorbikes and bicycles are largely assembled by its teeming workforce of women in Africa. Looking into the future, Appiah said he hopes to assemble electric automobiles for the African market by the end of this year. The company is already into the distribution of imported electric cars. According to him, he must win in the electric vehicle space as well.

Meanwhile, Solar Taxi has developed a ride-hailing mobile app that offers commuters an affordable ride in electric cars. Appiah indicated that this is part of his goal to offer commuters a cleaner option of moving around at a cheaper cost.

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