A Bamboo Bikes initiative in Kumasi is scaling up the production of high-quality multi-purpose bicycles for the Ghanaian, European and US markets.Bamboo is the fastest growing canopy for re-greening of degraded lands. It also provides nutrition for humans and animals as well as helps improve air and water quality.But in Ghana, a local bamboo bike industry is emerging to deliver a sustainable and affordable form of transportation that satisfies local needs and suitable for export.

Compared to the production of traditional metal bicycles, bamboo bikes require less electricity and no hazardous chemicals.Ms. Bernice Dapaah is Executive Director of Bright Generation Community Foundation, which is responsible for the overall management of the Ghana Bamboo Bikes initiative. She hopes the project will secure a contract from the government of Ghana to build bicycles for teachers and health workers in rural areas. She says the project is helping to improve the environment and creating employment opportunities for the youth and people with disability.

“Our vision is to help create employment for street children and also the physically challenged – we've employed ten street children and physically challenged and we are anticipating that by the end of the year, we can employ about 100 of the youth and also export thousands of bicycles to international platforms”, Ms. Dapaah told Luv Fm.

Ghana Bamboo Bikes design, develop and market multi-purpose bikes and related products and services using native bamboo. The light and stable frames are suitable for rough terrain and for carrying large farm loads and passengers.The Bikes initiative aims at taking advantage of the abundant raw bamboo materials in Ghana to manufacture high quality bamboo bikes affordable to the poor and appropriate for the road conditions.

According to Ms. Dapaah, the initiative focuses on markets in the EU and USA to generate foreign exchange and create jobs.

“80 percent of our products are geared towards the international market and they've fully embraced it. Right now, we have to produce about 500 bicycles that they are in orders that we are yet to sent to the European and US markets”, she said.

The Ghana Bamboo Bikes contribute to a carbon-free and greener planet by reducing carbon emission by about 70 percent.The project was one of six projects in Ghana which won the 2010 SEED Awards by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh/Luv Fm/Ghana