It is said that in order to look at where we are going we need to understand where we come from. John Msingo, Moderator: East Africa at AfricaNEV writes a prognosis and predictions opinion piece looking at the future of e-mobility in Africa.
Written by: John Msingo
There can be no doubt that 2023 will see the biggest developments in terms of electric mobility on the continent. In every corner we see amazing new companies being formed and trying to tackle challenges in the industry. So what happened in 2022 that has got all of us buzzing?
It is a fact that a majority of Africans will most likely interact with E-mobility by using some form of public transport. Be it buses, motorbikes, or tuk-tuks. This then makes the actions of the two Kenyan companies, Roam and BasiGo very significant. They have made electric mobility accessible to the masses and everyone knows, once you go EV you never go back.
At the time of writing, BasiGo had carried over 185,000 passengers. This number includes future car owners, future captains of industry, future legislators, and basically the most influential part of society when it comes to voting. Clean energy and renewable energy is far removed from most people. This brings forward something that they can relate to and the effect of this cannot be overstated on Electric mobility adoption in Kenya.
Energy generation, storage and charging
Another great but understated action is that Total Energies has entered into the fray. A little-known fact is Total Energy has put up the largest amount of solar panels on the African continent, period. Late last year, it was announced that they had commissioned an electric vehicle charging site in Accra Ghana. With over 4000 sites across Africa alone, they are in a prime position to roll out the infrastructure when needed. If you have a look at any new petrol station, recently constructed, a lot of “space” has been left bare. I wonder why?
Something that was not a mystery was KENGEN. They came out and made the boldest statement yet about their intentions. By acquiring two fully electric pickup trucks and two fully electric sedans, they have in one swoop legitimised and put on notice all government agencies of the existence of electric cars. Hats off to you KENGEN. Sticking with congratulations as a theme, AEMDA staged the Africa E-mobility Week which culminated in the launch of an electric charging point by EVChaja. Any event that brings awareness of EVs to the public is a big deal. Congratulations.
Processing of raw materials throughout the continent
This is the season of giving congratulations, Nigeria rejected an offer to mine and export their raw ores. They want companies to do value addition in the country. Zimbabwe has also done the same by banning the export of unprocessed raw materials. When I read these two pieces of news, I could almost swear that I heard Thomas Sankara’s voice saying “well done, you have finally learned.“
International landscape for 2023
What next in 2023? What do all the things mentioned above signify? I will now leave our continent and go to the land of the free and home of the brave. Joe Biden finally signed into law the infrastructure and investments act. The ramifications of this act on the whole renewable energy sector are immense.
I will just focus on one for now. The act has mandated that only materials gotten from very specific countries can be used to make vehicles that qualify for a subsidy. This automatically disqualifies Chinese and Russian battery manufacturers from accessing subsidies which currently have an 80% of the global market share. With these developments then it stands that Africans can seize the opportunity and build several Giga factories, and we would qualify to supply the American market. If more countries can follow suit and insist on exporting only value-added products, Africa stands to benefit greatly. Such a framework could be organised under AFCTA.
Localisation of EV Manufacturing
A host of companies such as Ampersand, Roam, ARC Ride, PowerHive, Zembo, and many more have been involved in R&D in the two-wheeler space for a while. We are now waiting with baited breathe to see how their products will do in the market. All the best, we in the industry are rooting for you. As for the companies still developing minimum viable products God speed, you will get there (it would help if they got funding). BasiGo has indicated that they will be bringing more buses into the country. With this increased number, quite a few several things will change. For starters, as a direct result, more EVs will hit the road which is a plus, but I think other electric vehicle players will enter the PSV transport sector.
The two and three wheeler revolution in Africa
Because of all these changes KPLC has already done an internal study simulating the effects of adoption at different rates. At 50% adoption of motorbikes and three-wheelers, there will be no effect on the grid. But for four-wheelers, the story is different, and the fact that they are taking a proactive approach to ensure that electric charging does not affect its other consumers. I am sure, as the implementation takes place they will have a lot of lessons for other utilities on the continent.
To get a glimpse of where we are on the continent and where we are going in more detail, AfricaNEV is organising a series of webinars that will shed more light.
It is going to be an interesting year for sure.