The Federal Government’s recent inauguration of a steering committee for the manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (EV) in Nigeria is a welcome development as it falls in line with global practice. With the recent advancement in technology, electric vehicles have finally become a viable alternative to fuel-powered vehicles and its eco-friendly technology is meant to drastically reduce man’s reliance on fossil fuel and thus would disrupt the traditional automobile market. Hence, Nigeria, which prides itself as the largest black nation, with huge automobile consumer market cannot be left behind in this era of technology- driven economy.
Inaugurating the 22-man steering committee chaired by the Director-General/CEO of the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria, Bayero Salih Farah, its Governing Council Chairman, Olorogun John Onojeharho, stated members of the team “were carefully selected based on their pedigree as qualified, savvy engineers”. He urged them to “work relentlessly towards achieving the feat and putting the country on the world map.
Part of the mandate of the team include; development of the blueprint that would guide the evolution of the electric vehicle, evolve the technology/design framework, develop a prototype of the electric vehicle, promote the new electric vehicle in the Nigerian automobile industry, determine the budgetary allocation to support the new project as well as identify capacity development requirements and technical support for partnership with other institutions or research bodies.
The setting up of the committee is critical, imperative and timely. If successfully done, it would put Nigeria on the global auto map. But achieving the feat is an enormous task that requires enormous resources and commitment by the committee and government.
Before now, EVs were of little interest in Nigeria, with their potential introduction still being subjected to scrutiny and public discourse. However, recent developments in the global automotive industry, where the proportion of EVs to total vehicle sales is growing significantly have necessitated the government’s action. Furthermore, the need for efficient, clean and environmental-friendly vehicles is forcing many nations to shift away from reliance on wasting energy sources to power vehicles.
The positive impact of EVs in Nigeria includes the possible reduction of crude oil output and the attendant government revenue generated there-from, it has a welcome effect on climate change and public health and less reliance on repairs and maintenance sector of the industry.
Presently, the global EV market is dominated by China and some European countries where deadlines have been set for moving away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, with the possibility that these disused vehicles may thereafter be imported into Nigerian markets.
As a nation, we must guard against it happening.
Electric vehicles are not really a new phenomenon at all. They actually pre-dated the internal combustion engine (ICE) because the pioneer full electric car was manufactured in the 1830s in Europe. In a recent report, the World Economic Forum (2018) examined the major developments in the transformation of energy and mobility systems, focusing on the change towards shared mobility and autonomous driving. The report noted that mobility will transform quite rapidly in the coming years as EVs thrive, ride-sharing continues to develop, and ultimately, autonomous vehicles (AV) would enter urban fleets, especially true for cities where novel forms of transportation are intense and where investment in supportive infrastructure is required to ensure this growth. All these developments will ultimately coincide with the progression towards cleaner, more decentralised and digitalised energy systems, with increasing electrification.
Meanwhile, automakers worldwide are starting to phase out vehicles powered exclusively by fossil fuels as governments seek to confront fuel emissions issues. The growth in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) continue climbing, such that by 2025, EVs and HEVs are projected to form about 30% of all vehicle sales according to a survey conducted in 2019 by JP Morgan.
The introduction of EV in Nigeria would not come without some obvious challenges. The challenges revolve around the inadequacy of electricity, which is critical for the EVs, procuring inputs like lithium and cobalt and provision of charging facilities and good road network.
While we commend the federal government and other public and private organizations’ bold initiatives we call for strong policy direction to chart the way forward and devotion of enough resources to research and development of this novel project.