BusinessDay

Nigeria crawling in global race for electric vehicles

For many developed countries, the switch from fossil fuel to cleaner and renewable sources of energy is ongoing and inevitable, and electric cars, a key part of this, threaten the conventional fuel car market.

As transportation remains important in driving economies, electric vehicles are gradually taking the centre stage, with eco-friendly technology designed to reduce man’s dependence on fossil fuel. But as this new technology is increasingly embraced by many countries of the world, Nigeria has continued to lag in the global race.

As oil prices soar and governments crack down on combustion engines to curb global warming, installations of electric car charging stations continue to grow elsewhere in Africa, such as South Africa, Morocco and Kenya, but not Nigeria.

Globally, the production of electric cars and hybrid electric vehicles has come with incredible speed and is getting more deeply rooted than ever. In fact, they are operational in the economies of Asia, Europe and America.

Electric vehicles are flourishing in countries like China, India, Japan, South Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, France, the United States, and Canada, among others.

Africa, especially Nigeria, has remained a mere observer in the array of developing technological discoveries in the world of automobile manufacture, with the possible exception of South Africa.

According to Mckinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, it projected that by 2035, the world’s major automotive markets—the United States, European Union, and China—are expected to sell only electric vehicles (EVs), and by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s vehicle sales are expected to be electric.

Reports estimated that about 40 percent of the global exports of used vehicles go to Africa, specifically, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Read also: Nigeria’s transport sector lags most African countries – Report

Only one African country, Cape Verde, has taken steps to phase out the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles by targeting an end to imports of such vehicles by 2035.

There is some hope for Nigeria, however, with Stallion Motors launching the first-ever Nigeria-made Electric car named Hyundai-Kona in November, last year. Similarly, Jet Motors Nigeria, founded in 2017, is a Nigerian automobile manufacturer that designs and builds electric vehicles for African roads. After about three years of research, testing and iterative development, some of the earliest outputs of the company’s effort are the JET EV, Africa’s first-ever electric car and the JET MOVER.

Chukwuebuka Uchendu, the CEO, of JET EV, said that the challenges to electric vehicle adoption in Nigeria include high cost, Infrastructural deficits, knowledge gap in technical know-how, and the government policy regulatory framework on e-mobility.

He said that despite these challenges, adopting EVs in Nigeria is still possible. The reason why electric vehicles are expensive in Nigeria is the cost of battery packs.

“With the abundance of lithium ore in Nigeria, the government can leverage that, making Nigeria the hub for lithium-ion battery production to serve the whole of Africa’s electric vehicle market,” Uchendu said.

Duncan Byencit, research analyst, lead, e-mobility and hydrogen, clean technology hub, said “E-mobility is an emerging sector in Nigeria which is mostly pushed by the private sector.

“With the rise of renewable energy like the grid and solar panels in Nigeria, it shows how possible electric cars can be adopted,” Byencit explained.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the huge gap in adoption between regions is related to the level of the challenges affecting EVs growth. Given that Africa barely contributes 4 percent of the world’s emissions, Pedro Omontuemhem, partner at Pricewater Coopers remarked that the continent is not a large source of pollution. Additionally, as the globe transitions to electric vehicles, Nigeria will see this, sooner or later join the trend.

“Nigeria is rich in crude oil; therefore, it is best that we stick with what we have rather than switch to electric vehicles. Although we have the raw materials to make batteries, it would make more sense if we could produce our own electric vehicles and batteries. Otherwise, if we switch from using fossil fuels to electric vehicles, what would happen to our crude oil,” Omontuemhem said.

“Having said how many percent we are emitting in Africa, before 2026, we will have to prepare for petrol, we can’t stop people from importing electric cars, but I’m sure that should become a national policy in the next five years,” Omontuemhem added.

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