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Published on July 31st, 2020 | by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

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Driving Electric In Africa Is A Whole Lot Cheaper Than Driving ICE: Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2, we looked at how cheap it was to drive electric based on electricity and petrol prices across 23 African countries. AfricaNEV, a civic advocacy group that is pushing for adoption of electric vehicles in Africa, has updated the study looking into just how much it costs to drive 100 kilometers across several African countries to factor in the temporary effects of the Coronavirus-induced economic slowdown around the world that has resulted in an oil glut. With lower oil prices, how does driving EVs look like now as compared to driving ICE vehicles?

AfricaNEV has now also extended its study to cover 38 countries. This extended coverage gives a good representation of the continent that has just over 50 countries in total. It is important to note the earlier studies in Part 1 and 2 are still pretty valid as they use petrol prices from November 2019, which would be more representative of “normal” conditions in these markets. Petrol prices have since started going up again after June 2020, as we have seen recently in Kenya.

Nissan Leafs at the launch of NopeaRide’s Thika Road Mall charging station, Thika Road, Nairobi. Pictures by Remeredzai Kuhudzai.

So we continue with our push to show that driving electric in Africa can be a whole lot cheaper than driving ICE. How cheap? In some cases, driving electric is as good as driving for free thanks some really cheap residential electricity tariffs in several countries. The image below shows the costs of electricity, petrol, and diesel across 40 countries in June 2020.

Angola, Ethiopia, Mali, and Sudan really stand out with residential electricity prices around $0.02/kWh and below! In Part 1 we used the Tesla Model 3 because just like any other industry, electric has its own icon,  and this icon is the Tesla Model 3! This time we will use the Hyundai Ioniq EV which is now proudly assembled on African soil in Ethiopia. It will cost you just $0.05 to drive the Hyundai Ionic over a 100 km distance in Sudan and Mali and just $0.15 in Ethiopia.

Looking at these costs, for those who can afford the Ioniq, there really would be no reason to go for a Honda Civic which would cost $0.96 in Mali and a whopping 30 times more at $4.37 in Ethiopia. All those Ioniqs will be driving off clean and renewable hydro that dominates Ethiopia’s energy generation mix, contributing around 90% of the installed generation capacity. We certainly hope that Marathon Motor Engineering, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Company and Olympic Champion Haile Gebrselassie, has immediate plans to export some of these Ioniqs to other countries in the region, such as Kenya and Uganda. 

Kenya’s installed generation capacity is sitting at over 2,800 megawatts (MW) which now exceeds the current peak demand which is around 1,900 MW. At night during the off-peak periods, this demand goes down even further to about 900 MW. So where can all this excess and very clean nighttime electricity go? It would be a shame if they must curtail all that clean geothermal energy at times. So far, the government has moved to slash the tariff during the off-peak nighttimes to encourage heavy users to take up more electricity during the night.

Now is the time for the utility companies to look at avenues to increase revenue generation and a steady stream of new customers from EVs that would be parked at night anyway. Accelerating the adoption of EVs in Kenya is critical in the bid to reduce emissions. Uganda is also in the enviable position of having excess electricity generation capacity. Uganda’s current installed capacity stands at 1,252 MW against a domestic peak demand of just over 700 MW. 80% of this generation capacity comes from hydropower stations. 

Paul Isaac Musasizi, CEO of Kiira Motors, says Uganda spends around $450 million annually on vehicle imports and a further $1.3 billion on petroleum products to power Uganda’s vehicle fleet. Electrifying the fleet would result in huge savings for the Ugandan economy. Kiira Motors is playing its part to solve this problem starting with mass transit in urban centers with its Kayoola electric buses. A lot of these other African countries are also net importers of petroleum products, and substituting imported petrol with locally generated clean electricity to power some vehicles will go a long way in addressing this.

Kayoola electric buses

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About the Author

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.



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