Unveiling Electric Vehicle Opportunities for Rural and Peri-Urban Communities

Cross section of stakeholders at the unveiling of Electric Vehicles in Lagos

…Electric Vehicles will reduce carbon footprint

…Electric Vehicle market is rapidly changing and fastest growing high-tech sectors in global economy

-By Felix Douglas

The Federal Ministry of Power in support from the Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), co-funded by the European Union and the German government in collaboration with GIZ, unveiled Electric Vehicles and motorcycles in Lagos.

Delivering her keynote address titled ‘Electric Vehicle Opportunities for Rural and Peri-urban Communities in Nigeria’ Mrs. Iniobong Abiola-Awe, Director, Department of Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) said it is quite apt as its aimed at discussing and sharing knowledge, insights and lessons learned from the pilot project whilst aligning on the way forward to promote e-mobility in rural and peri-urban communities in Nigeria.

At COP 26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, President Muhammad Buhari pledged that Nigeria will cut down carbon emission to net zero by 2060, evoking climate emergency. This means that Nigeria must have a detailed plan for reducing emissions and increasing carbon sinks.

Emissions from combustion engine vehicles – cars, motorbikes, buses and trucks are the main sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause air pollution. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2020 reported that transportation is still responsible for 24% of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion and road vehicles account for nearly three-quarters of transport emissions.

Transportation is a priority sector in Nigeria’s NDC owing to the large emission potential of the sector.

Abiola-Awe stated further: “For the transport sector to meet projected mobility and freight demand while reversing CO2 emissions growth, energy efficiency measures will need to be deployed to maximum effect. One of which is deploying energy-efficient technologies for vehicles and the fuels that drive them, such as electrification that enables the use of motors that are more efficient than internal combustion engines.”

She revealed that many developed countries have switched from fossil fuel to cleaner and renewable energy, the process is still ongoing and inevitable. Despite many obstacles, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are being relied on to help reduce carbon footprint. EVs and their hybrid variants are responses to the urgent call for an environmentally-cleaner world. The global environment has, for decades, been degraded by the emission of tons of CO2 and related elements on account of the massive usage of petroleum products by gas driven vehicles.

For Nigeria to achieve net zero emission by 2060, concerted efforts of all societal layers, that is, individuals, civil society, private sector and public sectors is required.

The Nigeria Energy Transition plan which has transport as a priority sector has a projection of 95% reduction in passenger car emissions driven primarily by the shift to electrification in the net-zero scenario. Shifting 20% of trips from ICE passenger cars to electric 2-3 wheelers or public transport can reduce 14Mt of CO2e by 2060. This will foster an eco-friendly transport system and reduce the high dependence on fossil fuel based vehicles in the country.

The FME Director eulogized the efforts of NESP/GIZ in promoting investment in energy efficient technologies, renewable energy and rural electrification in Nigeria and look forward to further partnership.

She also appreciated European Union and German Government for their support in the handling issues of climate change for a harmonious environment and sustainable livelihood.

Abiola-Awe urged all stakeholders to key into the initiative to enable Nigeria achieve net zero pledge at a shorter time.

At the unveiling ceremony, Engineer Abubakar, Acting Director of Renewable and Rural Power Access Department of Federal Ministry of Power was hopeful that the event has promoted linkages and facilitated interaction among decision makers in government and the energy sector as well as the private sector in articulating opportunities inherent in electric mobility both in existing grids and mini-grid infrastructure in Nigeria.

According to Engr. Abubakar, energy transition has opened new direction in the way energy is used across the globe. One of this new direction is EV and their charging infrastructure.

The EV market is one of the most rapidly changing and fastest growing high-tech sectors in the global economy. According to some estimates, sales of electric vehicles could account for one-fifth of new car sales globally by 2025.

The need to electrify the transportation sector to reduce carbon emissions is clear, but this goal cannot be reached without the inclusion of rural and peri-urban communities, which are home to over 70% of Nigerians.

“In order to achieve this goal, as well as to increase electricity access across the country, the Ministry made huge investment in power generation using renewable energy sources as enshrined in the Electricity Vision 30:30:30 which aims to generate 30GW of electricity in year 2030 with 30% coming from renewable energy sources.

Engr. Abubakar made it known that Nigeria developed six (6) solar PV mini-grids under NESP which is providing sustainable electricity to more than 15,000 people as at 2020, and 100,000 addition people would be reached under NESP II through the Mini-grid Acceleration Scheme (MAS).”

Under the Inter-connected Mini-Grid Acceleration Scheme (IMAS) NESP II, the country has handed-over rural electrification materials valued at Nine million Euro (€9M) to Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

Without targeted outreach on the benefits of EVs and without higher visibility of EVs on the road, consumers, businesses, and public fleets are likely to continue investing in conventionally fuelled vehicles.

“As such, all hands must be on deck to promote EVs and their charging infrastructure in Nigeria to enable us meet our 2060 Net Zero commitments.

To meet the demands of larger or faster charging installations, it may be necessary to upgrade certain components of our local power distribution infrastructure such as the installation of transformers at designated Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) sites.”

He said the rural areas need upgrades where the grid may be less robust to add substantial costs to EV charging projects while utility pricing can also be a challenge for EV charging installations.

Nigeria can leverage on Mini-grids to promote EVs and their charging infrastructures in Nigeria to unravel in a new paradigm of opportunities in rural and peri-urban communities. The EV charging infrastructure may be deployed and owned by third-party companies in agreement with the Distribution Companies (DisCos) or owned by individuals.

EV adoption in Nigeria presents several challenges due to peculiarities, rural and peri-urban communities face additional barriers that could prevent EVs from reaching their full potential. Although progress has been made in Mini-grid deployment across Nigeria, much more work remains to be done in the areas of embedding EV Charging systems, EV model availability, and state and local policies in order to encourage EV adoption in rural and peri-urban Nigeria.

While it is clearer than ever that the future of rural transportation is electric, reaching this future will require continued actions by stakeholders.

Engr. Abubakar said implementing EV-friendly infrastructure and policies in rural and peri-urban communities, Nigeria can make transition to clean transportation while ensuring that those living beyond metropolitan areas are not left behind.

According to Executive Director, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Engr. Barka Sajou, as implementer of rural electrification project, REA is keen with continuous interest in technology needed to provide real and sustainable solutions to energy access challenges in rural and peri urban communities.

Engr. Sajou pointed out that REA will continue to collaborate with NESP as it explores to adopt inputs in rural peri-urban communities. While investors are being encouraged to explore the solar mini-grid set-up but one major challenge is the adoption of being used productively. Sustainable transport solutions are fast becoming significant and stimulating productive use in rural communities specifically in communities that utilize the technology. Nigeria is already exploring various opportunities to advance the use EVs

Exploring new technologies, REA has piloted electric mobility using tricycles in agro communities to transport farm products. There are also various communities where such opportunities can be used among farmers.

Notwithstanding, the key point is about sustainability and scaling up the process.

Engr. Sajou appealed that the conversation should be in front burner and proffer solutions in some of the barrier in EVs including lack of sound policy frame work.

He suggested that there is need for investment, limited charging infrastructures, low consumer awareness in terms of product and services and the issue of taxation has to be addressed.

Showcasing EVs at the event, Mr. Jelani Aliyu, Director General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), was of the view that the vehecles have been in Nigeria. Already in some part of the country, EVs are driven on Nigerian roads and is cost effective without fuel.

Concerns on whether EVs can work effectively in Nigeria with the country’s ailing power sector with regards to charging of battery used, the NADDC Director General disclosed that EVs will soon be manufactured with batteries that can last for long kilometres and hours without stopping on motion.

One major advantage is that EVs will not be powered with fossil fuel but run through solar and renewables.






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