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Ghana's Bamboo Bikes Hit the Streets


Bicycle frames are usually made out of materials like carbon fiber, steel or aluminum. But in rural Ghana, a businessman has developed another way to make bicycles from a natural product -- bamboo.

Bamboo does not get much respect in Ghana. Farmers think of bamboo as an unwanted plant that needs to be cleared from their land. Construction workers use it to support buildings while they are being built.

But Kwabena Danso thinks bamboo is much more valuable. He operates a business called Booomers International. His company makes bicycle frames out of bamboo. The wooden bike parts are sent from Mr. Danso’s village to other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

Kwabena Danso says bamboo can help a country like Ghana in many ways. He says he wants to, in his words, “get the people to know that there’s a great advantage to bamboo.”

Young men from nearby villages come to work at Booomers International. They sand, glue and connect the bamboo frames. The company makes about 50 of the bicycle frames each month. The bamboo is grown locally. The glue to hold the parts together is made of flour from the cassava plant.

Mr. Danso says Booomers International provides good jobs to young men like Abdul Razak. He serves as a foreman or supervisor for the company. Mr. Razak says that without this job, he would still be living at home with his parents. He adds that the job helps him a lot.

Kwabena Danso has sold only a few of his bamboo bicycle frames within Ghana. Walter Kudzodzi is one of his customers. He bought a bicycle earlier this year. Mr. Kudzodzi says his bike gets a lot of attention when he rides around his neighborhood.

“For example on Saturday, I rode about five kilometers around my neighborhood and everywhere I went, people were just looking at me. And once and a while you hear the exclamation, ‘Hey, it’s made out of bamboo, hey, that’s the bamboo bicycle,’ yeah know, and anytime I stopped to take a breather, people come close to me and say, ‘Wow, we heard about this, but this is the first time we’ve seen it. Is it functional?’ Does it work? I say yeah, try it.”

Mr. Danso’s business has received lots of orders for his bicycles. He says Booomers is ready for expansion. He hopes to have more of his bamboo frames not just in foreign countries, but also on the roads of Ghana.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

*This report was based on a story from reporter Chris Stein in Appah, Ghana. Jonathan Evans wrote it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

bamboo – n. a tall plant with hard hollow stems that are used for building and to make furniture, tools, etc.

beneficialadj. producing good or helpful results or effects: producing benefits

exclamation n. a sharp or sudden cry: a word, phrase, or sound that expresses a strong emotion

expansionn. the act of becoming bigger or of making something bigger

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