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Nigeria struggles to provide reliable electricity as electric vehicles’ market expands 

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Electric vehicle sales have been forecast to make up a third of new cars sold globally in the next ten years as Nigeria struggles to provide reliable electricity for its exploding population.

The world is on course to reach annual electric vehicles sales of 31.1 million by 2030, 10 million more than previously forecast, due to changing consumer sentiment and weakening adoption barriers, according to a new analysis by Deloitte, a multinational professional services network.

In spite of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it still expected total global EV sales to reach 2.5 million in 2020 and, based on a compound annual growth rate of 29 percent, Deloitte estimated that the volume would grow to above 11.2 million in 2025 and 31.1 million by 2030.

“At this milestone, fully electric vehicles will account for 81% of all new EVs sold according to the research, outperforming their plug-in hybrid peers,” it said.

EVs, also known as plug-in electric vehicles derive their power from electricity supplied to the electric grid. They receive electricity by plugging into the grid and store it in batteries.

However, Nigeria seems to have other pressing issues to attend to than join in the race to adopt electric cars. On April 10, 2019, Ben Murray-Bruce, a Nigerian senator representing Bayelsa East tweeted “today, I presented two important bills on the floor of the @NGRSenate.” One of the bills was Electric Cars (Introduction) Bill, 2019 (SB.726) – First Reading.

The bill aimed to phase out petrol and diesel-fired vehicles by 2035 and replaced by electric vehicles. A corollary objective of the bill was to drive the use of modern technology, de-emphasise dependence on crude oil, and reduce air pollution.

Murray-Bruce lost the argument despite attempting to show it was cheaper to maintain electric cars. The Senate rejected the Electric Car bill days after, at a plenary session, describing it as irrelevant.

Nigerians did not spare Murray-Bruce either. In response to his tweet on the matter, Twitter handle, Etukudo Emmanuel said the senator is out of touch with Nigerian realities and probably more attuned to developments in the developed countries. “How on earth can he be talking about electric cars in a country without electricity? Maybe he is doing it for himself because he wants to drive an electric car.”

Adebayo Samuel, also a Twitter handle said it does make any sense at all to talk about “electric cars in a country producing less than 10, 000 megawatts of electricity.”

There are massive electricity deficits in Nigeria. Africa’s biggest economy has a peak of 5, 500 megawatts of electricity, daily. This is a far cry from the 20, 000 megawatts needed to drive the economy forward, according to people with a deep understanding of Nigeria’s energy sector and needs.

“The public perception is that Nigeria needs about 60, 000 megawatts of electricity to have a thriving economy. For 200 million people, Nigeria should be targeting 200, 000 megawatts of electricity,” Onyeche Tifase, managing director and CEO, Siemens Nigeria said at BusinessDay’s Digital Dialogue in June.

Onyeche outlined some of the challenges facing Nigeria’s Electricity Supply Industry to include an obsolete infrastructure, which needs to be rehabilitated and expanded, poor payment culture, and commercial framework.

“But we are starting to see efforts from the government to resolve these issues. Our collaboration with the government on the presidential power initiative will start to close the infrastructure gap and meet customer demands,” she said.

Despite these electricity challenges, JET Motor Company, a Nigerian-based automobile manufacturer has raised $9 million from foreign investors as it intensifies efforts at delivering electric vehicles in Nigeria.

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