Nigeria can tackle challenges hindering adoption of Electric Vehicles–Stakeholders

Stakeholders and local automakers have said that despite the challenges surrounding the operations of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in the country, Nigeria has the potential to do the needful if collaboration and long-term planning with relevant stakeholders is followed.

They disclosed this at an EV Hackathon, organised by Microsoft Garage in Lagos, noting that the adoption will cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal on citizens as well as promote clean energy.

At the event, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, Marisa Lago said not only are they committed to combating the climate crisis and view EVs as critical technologies to facilitate the clean energy transition, she said more importantly, new jobs will be created.

Revealing that U.S. companies are eager to find opportunities to expand business relationships with Nigerian counterparts, she added that transitioning to EVs present a tremendous opportunity to drive innovation in the automotive sector and provide good-paying jobs for Nigerians, while simultaneously addressing climate change and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

She went on to reveal that supportive infrastructure is crucial for widespread adoption of EVs. “The availability of charging stations is a fundamental aspect of the enabling environment for an EV industry to thrive. But, there is a chicken-and-egg conundrum since companies are not likely to invest in charging infrastructure until there’s a critical mass of EV drivers. Also, individuals will be reluctant to buy EVs until there is a reasonable recharging infrastructure.”

Also pointing out that the cost of EVs, which is still relatively high compared to conventional vehicles, remains a barrier, and wondered if the costs could be reduced through local manufacturing, targeted investment in R&D or collaborations with industry leaders from around the world to achieve economies of scale.

Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Garage, Soromfe Uzomah, said they are looking to drive innovation and there is no reason why EVs are not in Nigeria yet, adding that if the country wanted EVs as at five years ago, it would have happened.

Head of Corporate Communications, Innoson Group, Cornel Osigwe, said they paused producing EVs because of the unavailability of batteries, which he said remain very expensive.

He, however, said companies could come together to produce batteries locally since all the raw materials are available in Nigeria. Osigwe said the government needs to get involved in battery production and provide an enabling environment for the market to thrive.

Scania Representative, Abimbola Adekoya, said a lot is happening in the various segments of the EV value chain in Nigeria. “We need to be deliberate in recognising and relying on strengths, collaborating and position as a block to strongly influence policy shaping in a manner that will positively impact the EV space in Nigeria.

Senior Vice President of Corporate Services, Oando Clean Energy, Alero Balogun, said the cost of financing EVs would be a challenge but investor finance is available.

The EV market is at the intersection of the transportation, automobile and power industries. Standardization for charging, regardless of geographical location or electricity Distribution Company connected, will need to be talked about in terms of rates, measuring and monitoring charging activity, among others.