Cars have become essential tools for easy navigation of remote places for economic, social and a host of other gains. In Africa, cars have become the most popular means of transportation. Hence, innovators as Elon Musk have been tinkering on the future of cars with his electric automobile invention.
The gains and comfort owed to this automobile innovation does not completely rule out the negative impact of its use, which includes but not limited to; emission of greenhouse gases, accidental deaths, air and noise pollution.
Despite the adverse effects, the comfort and ease which cars offer in meeting economic and social interactions in the present century makes it an essential commodity which cannot be done away with.
In Africa, these effects can be traced majorly to the importation of used vehicles. Large import of used cars from other countries especially western countries some of which are faulty and outdated. Whereas, in those countries, strict vehicle inspections force cars out of circulation after just a few years. Where do these used cars end up? Africa of course. These cars run on fossil fuel and have a lifespan of upto 15 years.The known impact of fossil fuel on humanity and the environment from air pollution and water pollution to global warming are dangerously enormous.
Why do Africans settle for used cars?
One reason for this is the low-average income and the lack of a sizeable middle-class population. Also, the high lending rates have made ownership of a car restricted only to the wealthy and prosperous. In Nigeria for instance, one of the biggest economies of the continent has a loan interest rate of about 12%. This makes taking a car loan an expensive proposition, which is hindering the automotive market in the country.
Africa is grappling with the challenge of transitioning to clean energy systems solutions such as solar and electric automobiles. From solar powered street lights to solar powered homes. The merits of this cheap, alternative source of sustainable energy are countless. Therefore, the need for electric automobile in Africa can’t likewise be overemphasized.
But however, as a country struggling with epileptic power supply, the question lies,
Is it feasible to embark on such project and make headway?
Senator Ben Murray Bruce of Nigeria sponsored an electric automobile Bill which sort to phase out petrol vehicles and introduce electric automobiles by 2035. This bill was turned down by the 8th Assembly of the Nigerian senate which inturn prompted his tweet. “You can’t stop the future, and let me tell you, electric cars are the future. The reality in the world today is that electric cars would soon outsell regular [internal combustion] cars.
The future of electric automobiles”. One cannot agree less with the ‘common sense’ mantra Senator. With the recent sightings of Electric Cars in Nigeria, perhaps, it appears that Nigerians were too hasty in turning down the bill. It could be recalled that the bill received scathing remarks, scorn and ridiculed in several quarters probably owing to the fact that the country largely depends on fossil fuel and equally struggling with it’s own demon of epileptic power supply.
One may ask what are the advantages of this electric cars and why the much hype?
Tesla the American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Palo Alto, California is accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy with electric cars, solar panels and integrated renewable energy.
Tesla electric automobile strategy hasn’t been like other self driving vehicle developers. As they all bet on lidar technology which is too expensive to go massive. For this reason, Tesla concluded that a series of sensors, cameras, and a very specific AI computer designed for self-driving can help to win the race in this field. Tesla is far ahead in this field as it has remarkably mixed different affordable technologies to enable AI software be as autonomous as possible.
It will aim to reinvent automobiles industry in Africa with the options it brings to table, these cars can easily be operated and maintained at a very low cost owing to the fact that electricity is cheaper than fuel, which brings the saved cost to an obvious amount.
Also, accidental deaths which are common on African roads can be averted with this AI electric cars.
Tesla doesn’t relent in it’s quest to dazzle the world with its innovative inventions. Their products become even more affordable and available. At about 31 million Naira, any wealthy Nigerian can afford to own one. Accompanied with it’s beautiful exterior crafted body one can’t help but admire the future of these electric AI powered vehicles.
The question now lies, can Africans afford to transit to electric automobile?
Mark Essien lends an idea on what Nigeria cum Africa can do to make available cheap electric cars.
“An ‘Electrification’ master-plan will be announced. Within 5 years, all cars older than 15 years must convert to an electric engine. Within 10 years, all cars older than 5 years. Within 15 years, only electric cars will be allowed. The import of solar panels and lithium ion batteries will be duty free and clearance free. They can be brought in through any of the ports (except Lagos port). I forgot to add, btw, that Lagos port will be forbidden from importing cars – only all the other ports.”
He further stated; “Electric motors (and controllers) can also be imported without clearance. They will be bulk imported from China. Manufacturers will be encouraged to also produce locally. There will be monthly training sessions teaching mechanics how to convert cars to electric.
Within a few years, capacity is there, cars will start getting converted enmasse. Transporters must convert within 3years,
Within the space of 10 years, Nigeria has done a huge migration away from environment-destroying fossil fuels, they have created off-grid electricity for 10s of millions of people, and they have created a new globally relevant category of people who can build electric cars.”
In conclusion, this efficient innovation in producing electric cars are all feasible with the support of African Government rethinking the future.