HI-TECH cheap and quiet. The Ivorian resort of Jacqueville just outside Abidjan is betting on solar-powered three-wheelers as it looks to replace traditional and noisy and dirty bush taxis.

''It's cheaper and relaxing!'' says local trader Sandrine Tetelo, of the Chinese made ''Saloni'' or  ''Antara'' tricycles, which could eventually spell the end for old-school ''woroworo'' four wheelers as  as Jacqueville looks to make itself Ivory Coast's premier  eco-city.

The mini-cars 2.7 metres [8.8 feet]  long and two metres high, are covered in solar panels each fitted out with six 12 volt batteries, giving the vehicles a  range of 140 kilometres [87 miles].

Returning from a visit to China, the solar cars promoter Marc Togbe pitched his plan to mayor Joachim Beugre, who was immediately sold.

''We are  used to seeing the [typically old and beaten up] bush taxis pollute the atmosphere and the environment. We said to ourselves, if we could only replace them by solar trikes,'' said Beugree.

Solar pioneers? ''The adventure started in January with two little cars,'' added Togbe, who has created a partnership with local businessman Balla Konate.

''I went to China with a friend,'' says Konate, ''and afterwards I sent four youngsters to Lome for training with a friend who had spoken to me about the project.''   

He wants to extend the operations in Odienne and Karhogo, towns in the north, the country's sunniest region.

''Today, a dozen cars are up and running. We are right in test phase. More and ,more people are asking for them,'' says Beugre, seeing a chance to kill several birds with just one stone.[Agencies]


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