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Creating Electric Vehicles in Africa for All

The repercussions of climate change on the environment and society at large are receiving unprecedented attention worldwide. With the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, more nations are seeing the need to move away from an economy based on fossil fuels and toward one that is sustainable, green, and aims to slow down climate change. The US, China, and Europe are the world leaders in electric mobility, and the continent is lagging behind in its transition to this kind of transportation.

Although, African countries such as: South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Rwanda, and North African countries are the early leaders in the EV market, according to UNEP. According to Mordor Intelligence, Africa Electric Vehicle Market was valued at USD 11.94 billion in 2021, and it is projected to reach USD 21.39 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 10.2% during the forecast period. Statista, a statistics portal indicate that South Africa, which has the most advanced e-mobility market in Africa, counted about 1,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in 2022 – out of a total fleet of 12 million automobiles. In Kenya, the number of EVs was estimated at 350, while a total of some 2.2 million registered vehicles were likely in use in the country.

For the growth of electric mobility, more investment is flowing to Africa. The recently awarded $1 million technical support grant to the Green Mobility Facility for Africa (GMFA) will further open the road for the development of electric vehicles made in Africa.

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) of the African Development Bank Group reportedly pledged the money. Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and South Africa are the seven nations that the GMFA works with to accelerate and expand private sector investments in sustainable transport solutions.

The SEFA award will also help the design of electric vehicle business models and guidelines for the public and private sector, according to Nnenna Nwabufo, director-general of the bank’s East Africa regional development and business delivery office.

The development of a bankable pipeline of e-mobility projects, regional coordination, and knowledge sharing amongst other upstream activities, according to the African Development Bank Group, to help catalyse follow-on private sector financing during the subsequent investment phase of the GMFA is also on the cards. Mobility, according to Nwabufo, is a fundamental lifeline that connects people to critical services, jobs, education, and opportunities.

Through building a sustainable and more climate-resilient future by catalysing private investment in low-carbon solutions. AfDB believes that GMFA will have a tremendous impact on the African market by accelerating the shift to green mobility, reducing over 2 175 000 carbon dioxide equivalent tons of greenhouse gas emissions and facilitating the creation of 19 000 full-time jobs.

Similar to this, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi, said that “Future demand for mobility solutions and vehicle ownership is expected to increase with rapid urbanisation, population growth, and economic development.” We are delighted to receive this support from AfDB. We see this as a vote of confidence in our efforts to shift to e-mobility solutions and advance Rwanda’s transition to a low-carbon economy, she said.

A McKinsey paper titled “Power to move: Accelerating the electric transport transition in sub-Saharan Africa said: While momentum is building, sub-Saharan Africa faces some unique challenges in its electric mobility transition, including, in some cases, unreliable electricity supply, low vehicle affordability, and the dominance of used vehicles.
Also, many countries have made significant strides toward improving electricity access (all six countries mentioned have urban-electricity-access rates above 70 percent and some more than 90 percent); however, electricity reliability remains an issue.” Fewer than half of those connected to the grid have reliable electricity, according to a 2019 survey conducted across 34 African countries. In Ghana, for instance, an Electric Vehicle (EV) cost 30% less to own than a conventional vehicle. Indirect CO2 emissions of EVs are one third that of conventional vehicles in Ghana. A 10% renewable energy (RE) addition to the grid reduces the TCO of the EV by 10%. If the total RE source falls below 15%, the indirect EV emissions will be higher. The biggest barrier to EV ownership in Ghana is initial price and taxes, a study stated.

That indicates that many African nations still lack the power grids and charging stations required to sustain widespread EV use. This is beginning to change, though, as more and more nations realize how important sustainable, clean transportation is.

However, McKinsey notes that the second issue is affordability, shaped by comparatively low household incomes, low availability of asset finance at affordable rates, and higher price points for EVs. Also, the dominance of used vehicles on much of the continent (excluding a few countries such as South Africa, where used-vehicle imports are banned).

Young creative inventors from Africa are becoming increasingly interested in sustainable, green, and efforts to mitigate climate change through the manufacturing of electric mobility, despite significant investments and hurdles in the field.

In 2023, Mustapha Gajibo, a young Nigerian university dropout from Borno State in the country’s northeast, gained notoriety for building electric automobiles on a tight budget.

Afterwards, Mustapha opened an Abuja facility to create 2000 of the electric cars. He gave the cars the moniker “Kaande”. The electric bus “Kaande” from his business Phoenix Renewables Ltd is intended to save the environment while lowering the expense of intra-city transportation. buses powered by electricity have a 200-kilometer range between battery recharges.

He made history by being the first person in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria to make electric cars from the ground up locally with the intention of fostering the growth of clean, efficient energy in compliance with environmental rules.

Africa is only now starting to experience this change. While being scant, the information that is now accessible is dismal. To grow these ideas and hasten acceptance, investors and governments must provide support.

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