Picture: user6702303 via Freepik
As the future of the global automotive industry looks increasingly electric, the combination of changing consumer perception and improving renewable technologies has ushered in a revolution in the automotive industry. By 2035, the US, China and EU are expected to have phased out the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles, while by 2050 over 60% of global sales vehicles should be electric.
While the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is key to meeting international sustainability goals, electric cars currently represent only 1% of the global fleet, with Africa lagging behind. However, with improving charging infrastructure, falling EV costs and increasing investment in EV startups, many sustainability scenarios suggest that 40% of the light vehicle fleet in Africa will most likely be electric by 2050.
However, for the African continent to participate in the electric vehicle revolution, African governments will need to work with private actors and development partners to support the adoption of innovative technologies, the implementation of regulatory mechanisms and the financing of infrastructure and EV assets. As momentum is rapidly building for a global energy transition, many governments in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Rwanda, with its recently announced tax exemptions for electric vehicle sales, and Kenya’s push for electric vehicles through policies that are climate-friendly and focus on electric two-wheelers, have begun to put in place incentives for EV adoption, as well as electrification targets for the automotive industry.
Many initiatives have emerged across the continent to promote the localization of vehicle electrification in Africa. In Uganda, state-owned automaker Kiira Motors Corporation has launched locally-made electric buses. Meanwhile, in Kenya, the voluntary and educational work programme, National Youth Society, has supported the development of three-wheeled electric vehicles as well as ongoing electric bus pilot projects in Cairo, Addis Ababa and Nairobi, while the East African country’s utility, Kenya Power and Lighting Company has announced plans to build charging stations across the country to support the import of electric cars. With plans to expand to other African countries, Rwandan electric motorcycle company, Ampersand, has introduced a new fleet of electric motorcycle taxis.
As urbanization and rising incomes in Africa continue, demand for vehicles is also increasing, with the vehicle fleet on the continent expected to grow from 25 million vehicles today to around 58 million by 2040. As As such, a challenge for Africa is to avoid becoming a dumping ground for second-hand internal combustion engine vehicles from the developed world as major auto markets trade them in favor of electric vehicles.
Therefore, for Africa to embark on the electric vehicle revolution and maintain momentum towards a sustainable future, the continent will need to focus on improving electricity access and reliability, putting implement policies to promote the development of charging infrastructure to be built upstream of projected demand, and ensure partnerships with various private sector players to accelerate the energy transition. Africa has a great opportunity to take advantage of its supply of vast natural resources and raw materials – such as lithium, cobalt and copper – which are essential for the development of batteries for electric vehicles. In addition, EV companies already operating in Africa have the opportunity to invest in local innovation for the domestic manufacture of EV components, such as spare batteries, so that local vehicle assemblers can source them. parts locally.