The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, (ZERA), is promoting the uptake of electric vehicles in Zimbabwe. ZERA has just added a brand new 2020 Nissan Leaf to its fleet. The 62 kWh Leaf e+ has a real world range of over 350 kilometers depending on driving conditions. Traditionally, Nissan has been one of the most popular brands on the continent. The majority of vehicles imported into Africa are used ICE vehicles from Europe and Asia. In Kenya and Zimbabwe for example, the majority of used vehicle are imported from Japan, which is why most of the used EVs starting to find their way to this part of the world are Nissan Leafs.
ZERA will host a series of events around the country to raise awareness and promote the adoption of electric vehicles in Zimbabwe. They also plan to install charging stations at its facilities across the country. ZERA has also been pushing for an increase in the adoption of renewable energy generation plants, with a strong focus on solar, to address the country’s electricity generation shortfall. Despite periodic power rationing cycles where the local power utility has been forced to implement load shedding from time to time, it has been shown that one can comfortably drive an EV in Zimbabwe. Load shedding is a controlled rationing of electricity supply when the current supply is not enough to meet the demand. Load shedding is carried out to prevent a total blackout.
There has never been a better time to go solar. Swanson’s Law, named after Richard Swanson of SunPower, has shown that the prices of solar panels have come down by about 80% over the last 10 years. At current prices, it is cheaper to generate your own electricity using solar, and if you go solar, you could essentially have your own fuel station at home! EVs and PV are a match made in heaven and the synergies between these industries will catalyze growth in both sectors and also help accelerate the transition to sustainable energy.
Zimbabwe imports all of its petrol and diesel spending about $1.2 billion annually on fossil fuel imports. These imports are almost a third of its annual import bill. This puts immense pressure on its current account position. Ditching ICE vehicles as fast as possible makes a lot of economic sense. Don’t forget, more money is spent on top of that to import ICE vehicle spare parts and engine oils, etc.. Reducing petrol and diesel import bills will help reduce the pressure on scarce foreign currency, which can then be freed up for other purposes.
By showcasing an electric vehicle from a brand people know well in this market, ZERA’s roadshows will help show that EVs are here now and are a viable option for consumers in this market. There is a need to also promote smaller and more affordable electric vehicles such as electric bicycles, scooters and 3-wheelers to increase the penetration of EVs and make a huge dent on that fossil fuel import bill.
Promoting micromobility options such as electric bicycles, along with improving the infrastructure around cities to enable a culture of cycling, should also be one of the key focus areas. It is really great to see ZERA leading by example and we hope other firms in both the private and public sector follow soon and also adopt EVs as part of their fleets.
Image courtesy of Albert.
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