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Electric Vehicle Progress in Africa

Africa is leapfrogging centralized coal-fired power for electricity generation, but what progress is being made in the uptake of electric vehicles? Green shoots are appearing. I have written previously about buses and boda bodas, but what other vehicles are being provided for the 45 countries and more than one billion people of this vast continent? What is the state of electric vehicle progress in Africa?

Morocco is challenging the energy crisis and the buildup of air pollution by creating the Intersectoral Professional Association for Electric Mobility (APIME). The mission of APIME is to develop sustainable transport. Among the executive committee members managing APIME are representatives of Afrimobility and Adiwatt (which specializes in solar solutions) as well as the managing director of the Centrale Automobile Chérifienne (CAC), which imports cars from Audi, Volkswagen, and Skoda into Morocco.

“The first lines of work will be devoted to dialogue with the public authorities in order to complete the standardisation of electric mobility equipment and to examine with the electricity distribution organisations and the private sector the specifications for the connection of recharging facilities for electric vehicles,” says Omar El Harti, the president of APIME and also the deputy general manager of Centrelec, an industrial equipment supplier based in Casablanca. The National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) has begun the development of the “National Master Plan for Electric Mobility.”

Car manufacturers are also playing their part. Renault, which has a factory in Tangiers, will produce the electric “Mobilize Duo” from October 2023. This two-seater is equipped with smartphone-assisted driving software and a battery exchange recharging system. Renault’s Moroccan employees have manufactured nearly 2.4 million vehicles over the past decade, which have been shipped to more than 70 countries. Ramping up the Duo should be easy.

The Mobilize Duo is a two-seat electric quadricycle set to replace the Renault Twizy in 2023, which was unveiled at the 2022 Paris Motor Show. First previewed as the Mobilize EZ-1 concept in 2021, it was eventually renamed to its current name and shown at the 2021 Viva Tech event. The Duo will not be available for purchase, but will be offered to individuals on a subscription basis.

A cargo version, named the Mobilize Bento, will be available with 1 m³ (1.3 cu yd) of load area. It was announced alongside the Duo.

The Duo is designed for shared mobility as part of the Renaultution strategy. Renault aims to integrate 50% recycled materials into the Duo’s construction and make it 95% recyclable at the end of its useful life. Tangiers will have the capacity to produce 17,000 Duos per year. Competitor Stellantis is planning to produce up to 50,000 electric quadricycles in Kenitra. These will include the Citroen Ami, the Opel Rocks-e, and potentially, the Fiat Topolini. Stellantis expects to have annual production capacity in North Africa of 1 million vehicles by 2030, taking advantage of low wages and government incentives.

Electric mobility is expected to develop in Ivory Coast by 2024. Mobility startup EVTech is currently raising around 6.4 million euros to be used to finance and deploy charging stations for electric vehicles. EVs are seen as one of the answers to the problem of air pollution in rapidly growing African countries.

Florent Thomas, founder of EVTech, explains: “We are moving up a gear after more than a year of development and various full-scale tests in the city of Abidjan with the aim of closing at the end of the second quarter of 2023.” Next is expansion to the capital city of Yamoussoukro, with a population of 340,000.

EVTech has developed a mobile app that allows subscribers to “locate available charging points, to know in real time the availability of the latter, the charging power offered, the type of connector or the price of the charge.”

Auto24, which runs the only public charging station in Treichville, will work with EVTech. Auto24 specializes in the sale and repurchase of second-hand vehicles. Auto24 is a subsidiary of Africar Group based in Paris, France. Their stated aim is “leveraging market knowledge, data intelligence, global technology, passion and motivation to build African automotive portals for cars, trucks and motorbikes, closer to the transaction.”

Before 2024, Africar is planning to launch its first range of second-hand electric vehicles manufactured in Asia for individuals and companies. Those include the Kia e-Soul, Kia e-Niro, and Hyundai Porter Electric.

“We will move Ivory Coast forward in the electrification of its car fleet by encouraging local consumers to take an interest in sustainable transport,” says Axel Peyrière, the co-founder of Africar Group, the parent company of Auto24 based in Paris, France.

2.2 million ICE vehicles are used on Kenyan roads. In a bid to reduce air pollution, Kenya’s national treasury is preparing to exempt the “importation, local assembly, or marketing of electric vehicles” in Nairobi and the other 46 counties from taxation. This measure is expected to increase the number of electric cars and bicycles.

The world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, BYD, is increasing its activity in the country. BYD is considering the acquisition of six mines that contain large lithium deposits in Africa. It expects to then produce up to 27.78 million batteries for the production of electric vehicles.

Matt Lloyd, Executive Director of the organization Associated Vehicle Assemblers, reports that AVA is expanding its electric vehicle assembly operations in Kenya in 2023. AVA and BasiGo will assemble 1,000 eco-friendly minibuses (33-seaters) by 2026. It is expected that this will create at least 300 green jobs in manufacturing, charging, and vehicle maintenance.

According to AVA’s executive director, who made the announcement, the vehicles will be imported from China in parts. “The advantage of working with BYD is that they are one of the world’s leaders in electric mobility with modern automotive technology devices,” explains Matt Lloyd.

Nairobi hotels also offer guests an EV transport option, using Nissan Leafs.

Emanating from Kenya and planning to make an impact across Africa is micromobility company eWaka. This video highlights the positives of using the Shujaa Box for both the delivery driver and the customer:

We can’t all drive Teslas, but we can share a Renault Duo, ride in a BYD electric bus, and have our food and purchases delivered by an eWaka Shujaa Box, all coordinated by locally generated software. It is great to celebrate the electric vehicle progress in Africa. 

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David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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