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Photo courtesy of Bako Motors.


Africa’s EV Road Back to Eden

The African continent is bearing the brunt of climate change induced disasters. We see it on the news most nights. Here are some of the attempts to decarbonise the transport sector in these emerging economies as chronicled by Afrik21. Some further background can be found here.

Six electric tricycles were recently delivered to health centres in 5 Tunisian cities. The initiative is cofunded by the German Agency for International Co-operation. The tricycles were manufactured and delivered by Bako Motors, a German-Tunisian mobility startup. Tunisia aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 46%.

“In the medium term, these tricycles will bring basic health services closer to people with reduced mobility or to people living far from the health centers of our six partner municipalities,” says Bako Motors.

Bako Motors was created in 2021 by engineer Boubaker Siala. Each tricycle has a 4,000-watt motor and an electric battery with a range of 200 km per charge. The tricycles can be charged from solar panels or a domestic socket.  “A year ago, Bako Motors announced the local manufacture of a range of 70 tricycles and electric bicycles at a unit price of 12,000 dinars (3,700 euros) excluding taxes.”

Bako plans to market the tricycles in Nigeria next year to help improve ecologically sustainable mobility.

The intersectoral professional association for electric mobility of Morocco (APIME) expects the deployment of 2,500 new charging stations for electric vehicles by 2026. The import of EVs is expected to surge in the next few years. APIME will be ready with chargers in Casablanca, Tangier, and the country’s capital, Rabat. Morocco aims to be an example for the rest of Africa to follow.

“As a result, the share of electric vehicles imported into Morocco will increase. This means that car importers must adapt to the trend and increased demands for green mobility and energy,” explains Omar Magoul, the director of Interworld Africa.

According to the OECD, the transport sector generates 40% of the CO₂ emissions within the Cherifian kingdom. The APIME initiative aims to drastically reduce air pollution.

“A few months ago, Moroccan company Vital Auto Parts, which specializes in the import and distribution of automotive equipment, signed an agreement with Spanish supplier Wallbox Chargers to market 50 charging stations for electric vehicles in the North African kingdom. These installations will be accompanied by digital solutions, including a mobile application for monitoring the consumption data of electric vehicle drivers.”

This is a good beginning.

Spiro (formerly known as Mauto Electric Mobility), an Indian startup, will build a new assembly plant in Uganda, at a total cost of $200 million (754.6 billion Ugandan shillings). The startup plans to deploy 140,000 electric motorcycles and 3,000 battery exchange stations in the capital, Kampala, as a start at displacing the 460,000 ICE vehicles on the road.

The motorcycles will be given out free of charge to replace petrol boda bodas (motorcycle taxi operators). Spiro expects to earn revenue on charging and battery swapping. The initiative is cofunded by the African Fund for Transformation and Industrialization (ATIF), with Spiro receiving $50 million in funding.

“This partnership, the first of its kind between an African government and a green mobility company on the continent, will create more than 9,000 jobs and promote made-in-Uganda with affordable costs for drivers who will be able to save up to 40%,” says Spiro.

4,500 electric motorcycles were distributed by Spiro in Benin, Rwanda, and Togo in 2022. The company currently operates 250 battery swapping stations in these countries, which are responsible for more than 130,000 swaps and have powered over 22 million km of travel so far.

BMW’s Mini has teamed with Red Bull of Austria to install a solar powered car charger in Cape Town, South Africa. Both companies are doing this to satisfy their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) requirements. It is hoped that this will accelerate green mobility and hence improve air quality.

“We are motivated by the potential for creative ways to play our part in protecting the planet. With the first stand-alone public solar charging unit in Cape Town, in collaboration with Red Bull, we are showing our commitment to sustainable energy solutions,” says Shaun Willis, Mini South Africa’s director.

Photo courtesy of BMW Group.

Mini will introduce the Mini Cooper Electric to South Africa by 2030. They aim to conquer the African market for luxury electric vehicles charged by renewable energy.

Cape Town has recently been affected by load shedding and soaring fuel prices. The Mini Electric, powered by solar, is one part of the solution. The South African government is considering the deployment of electric minibuses to facilitate public transport. I would expect they would have to explore options of decentralised solar power in order to keep them running. South Africa’s grid is notorious for its fragility.

Johannesburg is set to receive electric cabs sometime this year as part of a project being implemented by South African mobility company GoMetro in collaboration with technology solutions provider MiX Telematics. It will complement the “transport on demand” offered by the Estonian platform Bolt. $696 million has been raised to put the project on the streets.

As Europe, China, and the United States tighten their emission regulations, it will be tempting for the makers of fossil fuel, hybrid, and plugin hybrid vehicles to dump them in the countries of Africa. In order to avoid this, African countries need to rapidly roll out more solar power to charge their growing fleets of EVs.

The before and after comparisons, once EVs replace the two-stroke boda bodas, will be stark. Less noise, less pollution. Africa will benefit from better economics and health outcomes. Tourists will enjoy their stay more. Balance of payment figures will be healthy without so much importing of oil and gas.

I’ll leave the last word to one of our astute readers at CleanTechnica: “The opportunities to get the African nations to make the right turn onto the Electric Highway is incredible and needs to be jumped on. BYD sees the light, as do some others, and it is beginning. What is REALLY INTERESTING is the absence of certain companies and products, which is quite telling on its own.” Well said, Steve.

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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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