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USAID’s Bicycle’s For Growth Market System Assessments

Bicycles for Growth Market System Assessments

USAID’s BFG Project identifies tools, approaches, partnerships, and incentives that  successfully improve sustainable access to and uptake of appropriate, affordable bicycles in sub-Saharan Africa. This strategy increases mobility, particularly in rural areas, and aid in alleviating poverty. BFG conducted bicycle market system assessments in target countries to better understand the dynamics of bicycle usage and availability through the application of a market systems approach 

A well-functioning bicycle market system requires policies that support a consistent supply of bicycles matched with demand by users. Policy improvements usually come from government, but they are driven by private sector and citizen demand, which is expressed through advocacy and lobbying. The USAID BFG conducted bicycle market system assessments in target countries to better understand the dynamics of bicycle usage and availability through the application of a market systems approach. The assessments found that development of Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) policy, advocacy for policy change and or enhanced implementation of existing policy have significant impact on improving a country’s bicycle market system 


The USAID BFG survey revealed that demand for bicycles in Rwanda is driven by the needs of users with two distinct purposes: (1) personal use for general travel and leisure, and (2) economic activity, including transportation of goods, people, and agricultural purposes. Bicycle ownership is facilitated by a robust network of mechanics and spare parts sellers across the country.  The spare parts market is substantially larger than the bicycle market, but many owners and potential owners are concerned about the cost. 


Demand for bicycles in peri-urban and rural areas of Uganda is high and primarily driven by individuals and households for mobility, transportation, and facilitating economic activity. While motorcycles have become the preferred mode of transportation in urban centers such as Kampala, bicycles saw an increase in urban demand during COVID-19 lockdowns, starting in 2020. It is yet to be seen if this demand is sustainable. There are strong indications that existing barriers to bicycle ownership, most notably affordability, lead to unmet demand. 


The BFG’s survey revealed that 60% of surveyed individuals stated their household owned at least one bicycle. Although bicycle ownership levels are high, there are strong indications that existing barriers to bicycle ownership are affordability constraints. Throughout the countries studied by BFG, bicycle affordability challenges are linked to challenges with access to finance. The households which stand the most to gain from bicycle ownership often lack the resources to purchase a bicycle and cannot readily access loans from financial institutions. 


Road safety emerged as a major concern among those surveyed by BFG. 87% of respondents expressed safety conce
rns about using bicycles on roads (either tarmac or dirt). Of these, 50% reported that safety concerns influenced their decision to cycle on roads, while 39% reported they influenced their decision to purchase a bicycle. These safety concerns were shared by bicycle owners and non-owners. 

USAID BFG conducted a Ghana bicycle market system assessment in 2022 which revealed that the country’s bicycle market system is marked by the ubiquity of imported secondhand (“home use”) bicycles – most of which are utility bicycles from Japan. These reach individual locations throughout Ghana through efficient and functional supply chains, marked by a high degree of cooperation and communication between buyers and sellers. However, the functionality of this market has recently been challenged by macroeconomic disruptions. 


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