A company in Ghana is exploring opportunities to make right use of bamboo and offering jobs to young people, transport and better health by making bikes out of bamboo. The project is on the agenda at the World Economic Forum on Africa taking place in South Africa's Cape Town between September 4 and 6.
The founder of Ghana Bamboo Bikes, Bernice Dapaah is current at the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She converts Ghana's bamboo forests into high-quality, environmentally friendly bikes – as well as jobs for rural women.
The company named Ghana Bamboo Bikes prepares bikes out of bamboo with an objective to protect the environment and fight climate change. "The reason why we use bamboo to manufacture bicycles is it's found abundantly in Ghana. This is not a material we are going to import. It's a new innovation. There were no existing bamboo bike builders in Ghana, so we were the first people trying to see how best we could utilize the abundant bamboo in Ghana," Bernice Dapaah said.
"I love the idea of reusing bamboo to promote sustainable cycling. People want to go green, low-carbon, lean-energy efficient," she said.
Ghana Bamboo Bikes has donated hundreds to rural schools, in areas where poor transport often stops kids getting an education. For every bamboo plant cut down for a bike, the company plants 10 more. The bikes are affordable for local Ghanaians. And are also exported across the world from the US to Japan.
Bamboo is stronger than steel. Compared with building bikes from metal, bamboo requires much less electricity and far fewer hazardous chemicals.
Ghana Bamboo Bikes taught dozens of young people how to build bicycles. The company is providing jobs in rural communities, especially for women. The company is also working to reduce migration to cities, where people go in search of a living. Its bikes help cut carbon emissions from transport.
Some scientists believe bamboo could replace steel as a cheaper, sustainable building material. Bamboo is a hugely underutilized resource in Africa. The continent grows 12 percent of the world's bamboo, but accounts for just 1 percent of global bamboo trade because many local people lack the skills and knowledge to create wealth from it.