Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and Nigeria are among many African countries that have tried to shift to electric transportation. In Ethiopia, they have a local electric vehicle assembler namely Tom Renewable Electric Bike Assembly & Sales to steer production in the country.
The Tanzanian government equally approved an initial roll-out of electric Safari vehicles at its flagship national park of Serengeti in an effort to reduce gas emissions. The Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club became the first tour company in Tanzania to release 100 percent electric Safari cars in the region. In Kenya also Roam Motors in partnership with Maasai Mara deployed an electric safari car.
Here are some of the opportunities of electric vehicles in Africa:-
a) Electric shared mobility: Due to low levels of individual car ownership,10 shared mobility such as buses and taxis are common in Africa. These modes could potentially accelerate the transition to BEV through fleet-by-fleet, rather than car-by-car, conversions. South Africa has introduced electric buses, 3-wheeler taxis, and taxi services for ride hailing. Ghana aims for a significant transition to electric buses by 2050. Ghana also has solar powered taxi service, used for ride hailing. In Nairobi, Kenya, there are several electric companies that have adopted electric buses (BasiGo and Roam motors) with close to 50 electric buses from parent company or partnership with local Sacco's
b) Electrification of 2&3-wheelers: Annual imports of 2&3-wheelers into Africa are estimated to be around 3 to 4 million units, with a current fleet of around 15 to 20 million vehicles.11 Electric 2&3-wheelers offer a great opportunity for low-cost e-mobility in Africa. Uganda is manufacturing new electric motorcycles, retrofitting existing ICE motorcycles, and assembling electric motorcycles and battery packs. Rwanda is retrofitting ICE motorcycles to become electric. South Africa has a startup company that manufactures and operates electric 3-wheeler taxis. Ghana is assembling electric 2&3-wheelers. Kenya is assembling and manufacturing electric 2&3-wheelers and multiple companies are currently investing in charging infrastructure for electric 2&3-wheeler charging. A battery swapping system has been tried and tested Kenya. more than 100 electric motorcycles are currently in the roads supported by an international development organization.
c) Business: E-mobility creates opportunities for startup companies and businesses. In 2022, Zimbabwean firms was leasing electric 3-wheelers and scooters, electric vans for delivery service, and dealerships that provides beneficial loan and insurance options for imported used EVs. Ugandan companies lease electric motorcycles and rent batteries. Ghana has solar-powered 2&3-wheeler taxis for leasing. South Africa has app-based electric 3-wheeler taxis that are cheaper than ICE taxi service.
d) Manufacturing: African countries have the potential to become future EV and battery exporters as some countries are rich in raw materials important for EVs (e.g., lithium in Zimbabwe, manganese and platinum in South Africa, copper and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo). Morocco is working with three major international automakers to build BEV manufacturing plants, and aims to build BEV production capacity of 1 million vehicles by 2025. South Africa has a lithium-ion battery precursor pilot plant. Rwanda is incentivizing BEV production. Tunisia is building capacity for manufacturing BEV components.
e) Incentives: Incentives can be offered to improve EV cost-competitiveness. Cape Verde has exempted customs duty and VAT for imported EVs and has an internationally supported rebate program for covering the incremental purchase cost of EVs compared to ICE vehicles. Kenya, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Zambia waived or reduced various taxes or duties for EVs. Other types of incentives include tax exemptions for imported EV components, batteries, and charging equipment; waived parking fees; and significantly lower electricity tariffs.
f) R&D: South Africa’s national uYilo e-mobility program has advanced R&D activities including national accredited battery and material testing, battery manufacturing, recycling, second-life usage, and vehicle-to-grid technology.
g) Charging infrastructure: A region-wide network of robust and reliable charging infrastructure builds consumer confidence in BEVs. Cape Verde has set a target of establishing a nationwide network of charging infrastructure by 2030 and is installing private and commercial charging stations under the internationally funded 5-year NAMA support project for facilitating EV deployment and infrastructure development. In Ghana, solar EV recharging hubs have been developed in four key cities. The country has also engaged in public-private partnerships to install 200 chargers across southern Ghana. In Morocco, a public-private partnership project is facilitating construction of 37-station charging network in the service areas of an 800-km long motorway integrated with solar parking shading structures, which will enable renewable energy to power charging stations. Kenya has more than 20 charging stations both private and public , also there swap stations for motorcycles.
There also challenges that face the adoption of electric vehicles in Africa some of which include-
i) Absence of regulations and policies pertaining to BEV-related manufacturing, import, deployment, technical standards, and charging infrastructure development.
ii) Lack of adequate finance to offer fiscal incentives and develop charging infrastructure to support the transition to BEVs.
iii) Import of used ICE vehicles, which widens the price gap between ICE vehicles and BEVs.
iv) Unreliable power supply and off-grid rural communities, which adds obstacles to providing the infrastructure needed for BEV transition.
v) Lack of technical expertise needed for local assembling and manufacturing, and ensuring minimum quality standard product, repairing and recharging
vi) Low level of public awareness of BEV benefits and operation/usage in the region, and
China remains the world’s largest electric car market, followed by Europe and the US, while Norway is the global leader in terms of electric car market share.
i) Tanzila Khan, Sumati Kohli, Zifei Yang, and Josh Miller (2022) Zero-emission vehicle deployment: Africa