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Electric vehicles: A green path toward sustainability

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Electric vehicles: A green path toward sustainability

Fossil fuel-powered vehicles contribute greatly to air pollution, this is because they emit tons of greenhouse gas, especially secondhand and very old cars. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of cars in Africa- particularly in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya- are used vehicles.

This raises a concern as some African leaders have pledged towards achieving a net-zero come 2050, some by 2070, and so forth. With the global transportation sector accounting for 90% of primary oil demand and is responsible for 22% of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, one might wonder if these goals are achievable.

The majority of these nations have little to no ambition of investing or introducing electric vehicles which could be a huge step towards sustainability.

Africa’s electric vehicle market has the capacity to grow. Statistics show that the Middle-East and African electric vehicle market is expected to reach USD 84 million by 2026.

In 2020, it was valued at USD 35 million. Apart from reducing carbon emissions, the adoption of electric vehicles in Africa will bring huge economic advantages. To that end, governments and stakeholders might as well go all in and invest in electric vehicles and their attendant infrastructure.

Since electric vehicles are a strong step towards reducing greenhouse gas and making net-zero attainable, the narrative should be around finding ways to encourage a transition to cleaner, healthier electric vehicles.

In South Africa, electric vehicles are already in use. Going by the figures of how many EVs are on the road, it’s nothing to be celebrated. For example, only 1000 out of more than 12 million vehicles on the road are electric vehicles.

While this is a minute step in the right direction for South Africa, other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa can follow suit. Kenya, on its part, recently got a grant to invest in electric buses.

There is no denying the fact that to transition to electric vehicles, there will be challenges and it will take time.

Electric vehicles: Reality or fantasy?

There are obstacles, despite the fact that EVs are practical alternatives to fossil fuel-powered vehicles. In reality, most African countries seem unready for electric vehicles due to low demand.

Some concerns may stem from a lack of trust in the technology as it is new but over time and constant use will create trust in the heart of people.

Another concern is the lack of long-term power supply in most African countries. In many parts of Nigeria, for example, a continuous power supply for more than 12 hours is a cause for celebration.

In Ghana, 87% of households have access to the grid but just 42% of those connections have access to reliable power. Despite this, it is three times the rate of well-functioning connections in Guinea which is 12 percent.

Households and businesses where electricity is in high demand suffer from the unreliable power supply. Introducing electric vehicles may cause concern and raise questions. Electric vehicles may be viable if Africa’s weak power grid is rectified.

Electric vehicles would demand a lot of electricity and is no guarantee that this electricity will come from renewable sources like solar and wind which many households and businesses do not have access to.

Furthermore, constructing a charging station will require a large piece of land, however, this may be overcome. There is always room; the primary question is whether or not leaders are ready to invest. It is feasible if the same energy used to build fossil fuel stations is used to build charging stations for electric vehicles.

Also, while electric vehicles may succeed if corruption is not a hindrance, countries that rely on fossil fuels for economic growth may be wary of the concept.

Just as fossil fuels automobiles depend on fuel stations to function, so also electric vehicles depend on charging facilities to function and they are scarce; some African countries lack even a single charge station, implying that green vehicles are not considered. If there are more charging stations, electric vehicles may be viable.

Rather than constructing more fossil fuel stations, funds should be directed into the construction of charging stations and plans for ensuring a steady power supply.

Many would argue that the cost of electric vehicles will rise to twice the cost of fossil fuel vehicles; but, in order to encourage green vehicle adoption, the government should subsidize them, lower or eliminate VAT on them entirely, making them more affordable.

Exploring electric vehicles is a step towards achieving some African nations’ net-zero ambition, taking old vehicles out the road will contribute significantly to reducing air pollution.

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