Electric vehicles are a global phenomenon. However, their impact on different continents has not been the same when observed critically. For example, North America, Asia, and Europe have emerged as the center of innovation in electric vehicles, with companies like Tesla, Rivian, Volkswagen, BYD, NIO, etc., all making electric cars. However, when it gets to Africa, the situation is different, and it seems like the electric vehicle revolution is yet to start.
This article looks at the current state of electric vehicles in Africa and why it is so.
Is it time yet for electric vehicles in Africa?
Electric vehicles are rare in most parts of Africa, and the average person does not even know about battery-powered cars. Only the people who keep up with the global tech scene know about alternative-fuel mobility.
Even in South Africa, the biggest market for electric vehicles on the continent, EVs are not so popular as an estimated 1,000 vehicles out of about 12 million in operation are electric.
Why is the rate of adoption of EVs slow in Africa?
The foremost reason is the lower purchasing power of many income earners in the continent. Car buyers have to settle for used cars imported from outside the continent in many countries because they cannot afford new vehicles. It has been estimated that about 40 percent of used cars globally end up in Africa, with Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia the main markets.
With EVs generally more expensive than their ICE counterparts, the former are simply priced out of the reach of most Africans.
Even when Africans can afford electric cars, they have to face the problem of charging infrastructure. In some countries, electricity is available for only a few hours during the day, with many households and businesses depending on electric generating sets. This makes home charging impractical. Public charging is even worse, as there are no networks offering DC fast charging as one would find in Europe or the US.
Many governments are grappling with providing basic amenities like water, good roads, security, and healthcare. While other countries are announcing bans on ICEs and enticing their citizens to switch to electric vehicles by offering incentives, these have not been the case in most countries in Africa. The lack of cohesive policies and strategies on speeding up the rate of EV adoption has made the continent lag behind.
However, this depressing state of EVs has not stopped some enterprising Africans from dabbling into battery-powered mobility. For example, in Nigeria, Jet Motor Company is supplying its electric vehicles to a local transport company, GIG Logistics, while a startup in Rwanda is offering a fleet of electric motorcycle taxis.