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Great Wall ORA R1 electric car
Great Wall R1 EV, image courtesy Great Wall Motors.

Cars

You Can Now Get The Ora R1 In Ghana!

The transition to electromobility is happening faster than a lot of people think. Africa is in a very good position to lead this transition going forward. That’s because a lot of African countries have low motorization rates, presenting a massive opportunity for another leapfrog event similar to the one seen with the mobile phone revolution.

Small, affordable city EVs in a category I call “ICE Killers” due to the fact they could land in Africa at prices comparable to used ICE vehicles that dominate imports into these markets could help catalyze this transition.  Last year, I wrote an article where I listed 7 potential ICE Killers that could disrupt the ICE market. When most people go out to look for a car, the most important factor is the price. These ICE Killers are certainly in the price bucket and driving range that would make many families in this market consider the switch to electric.

One of the ICE Killers is Great Wall Motors’ Ora R1, also known as the Black Cat. It has a 33kWh battery pack and a 35 kW motor enabling a 220 km WLTP range. The good news is that these small city EVs are starting to find their way to Africa faster than I thought. The Ora R1 is now available in Ghana! This is really exciting news as the availability of such small affordable city EV lowers the barrier to adoption. This type of EV is also perfect for ride-sharing platforms.

Ghana is a good place to bring in EVs right now as the country faces an interesting electricity crisis. According to Ghana’s Energy and Demand Outlook 2020, by the end of 2019, the installed electricity generation capacity available for grid power supply in the country was about 5,000 megawatts (MW). The peak load, however, was around 2,612 MW. The interesting part is the portion of the total dependable grid capacity which was 4,580 MW in 2019 and was therefore in excess of the peak load by a whopping 1,968 MW!

Ghana moved from a deficit to having excess generation capacity in a short space of time due to a rush from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to address the deficit.  A lot of these generators have “Take or Pay” clauses in their contracts, so Ghana has to pay for electricity it doesn’t need at the moment. Ghana is paying over US$500 million annually for power generation capacity that’s not being used. The 2019 National Household Electricity Access Rate was 82.5% according to Energy Commissions 2020 Statistics.

With a pretty high electrification rate compared to some other African countries and all that excess generation capacity, Ghana could really benefit from an increased penetration of electric vehicles. Ghana is promoting the adoption of EVs in a big way and the Ghana EV scene is definitely one to follow in Africa with a lot of developments going on there. Local startup SolarTaxi is assembling electric motorcycles and also leasing several electric SUVs and sedans. The 64 kWh Hyundai Kona is also now officially on sale in Ghana. We will keep following developments in Ghana closely. Let’s hope the Ora R1 was just the beginning and more of my list of 7 ICE Killers will find their way to Ghana and the rest of Africa soon.

 

Images courtesy of Suleman Mahmoud Junior, featured image of Great Wall R1 EV courtesy of Great Wall Motors.

 
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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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