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Petrol subsidy removal: 10 months after, FG yet to roll out electric vehicles

Ten months after the removal of petrol subsidy by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the federal government has not rolled out electric vehicles as promised, Daily…

Ten months after the removal of petrol subsidy by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the federal government has not rolled out electric vehicles as promised, Daily Trust can report. 

Millions of Nigerians are grappling with the high cost of transportation in the aftermath of the fuel subsidy removal. 

Experts say productivity in work places has reduced; while the capital of many people, whose businesses require moving around, has been depleted. 

The federal government had planned to increase the percentage of electric vehicles in the country to 7.50 per cent of the total vehicles running on roads by 2025. 

Petrol subsidy removal: 10 months after, FG yet to roll out electric vehicles

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 This target implies that at least 7.50 per cent of the estimated 11.8 million vehicles on Nigerian roads currently will be electric. 

However, the development has been very slow with very little on the ground to show the readiness of the country to embrace electric vehicles. 

Officials of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) declined comment when contacted by Daily Trust on the state of progress in the country’s vehicle electrification project.

 

Race against time? 

Some states are already exploring the vehicle electrification project as an alternative to fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the wake of the removal of fuel subsidy petrol, which is now almost N700 per litre. 

Late last year, President Tinubu unveiled over 100 electric buses and taxis in Borno acquired by the administration of Governor Babagana Zulum to cushion the impact of fuel subsidy removal.  

Tinubu at the inauguration of the electric taxis and minibuses for mass transportation in Borno said the initiative would encourage more players into the value chain and expand the frontiers of electric vehicle adoption in Nigeria. 

During the commissioning, Tinubu stated that the federal government would leverage on the foresight of Borno State government by building electric vehicle assembly plants in the country. 

“We are going to take advantage of your foresight and proactiveness at the sub-national level to start assembly plants and add more value to the economy and bring prosperity to our people. You (Zulum) is doing a good job, thank you very much”, the president said. 

Similarly, the Delta State government also recently indicated interest in electric vehicles when it took delivery of some Jet Movers. Governor Sheriff Oborevwori announced his intention to form a committee after test-driving two electric vehicles locally assembled by Jet Motors, one of the electric vehicle players in Nigeria. 

The Lagos State Government (LASG), on April 30, 2023, announced the launch of the first set of electric buses under its Lagos Mass Transit Master Plan. Also, other states are said to be exploring the EV initiative as an alternative to fuel subsidy removal.

 

‘Energy crisis remains a big issue’ 

Experts have expressed concern that the adoption of electric vehicles is being threatened by the energy crisis as the nation struggles to meet demands for residential and business consumption. 

They said since electric vehicles need to be charged after working for some hours, the federal and state governments must pay attention to increasing access to electricity. 

Ahmed Abdullahi, an electric engineer, said the passage of the Electricity Act, which allows states to generate their energy, could be leveraged upon to address the energy constraint in electric vehicle project. 

“Beyond the euphoria of importing electric vehicles, which is just momentarily, leaders should invest heavily in electricity generation in the cities and in rural areas. 

“It is the only way to make the electric vehicle project a reality. There are countless communities that are yet to be connected to the national grid,” he said. 

With the population of over 220 million people, Nigeria is barely able to generate 5, 000 megawatts of electricity to power homes and businesses despite having the capacity to do 12,000 if all the existing power plants are optimised.

Similarly, Nigeria is rich with hydropower resources, which remain largely untapped even as several power plants across the country designed to ramp up power supply are said to have been very inactive. 

At the moment, Nigeria struggles with 3,500 to 4000 megawatts of electricity even as over 80 million citizens are said not to be connected to electricity.

 

‘Charging points lacking in states’ 

Electric vehicles need direct current to charge their battery packs. But few states have charging stations, which are central to boosting the adoption of electric vehicles.

The National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) had, while inaugurating a 15-KVA solar-powered Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, in August last year, said it had developed a similar facility at the University of Lagos and Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. 

There are few private charging stations in Lagos, including Possible EV and Siltech; Charging Hub in Abuja and Eride Nigeria in Maiduguri. 

An energy expert, Sesan Okunade, stated that the newly passed Electricity Act “Would definitely assist the states in generating electricity.” 

He also charged state governments to invest in infrastructure, including charging stations if they must get electric vehicles right. 

He said, “I think part of the things the state needs to do is setting up infrastructures that would definitely assist in making sure that people have access to constant electricity.” 

In the same vein, an automobile marketing specialist, Dr Oscar Odibo, in a chat with Daily Trust, urged state governments to make deliberate investments in the electric vehicle value chain. 

He said with the right infrastructures in place, every other issue would be solved. 

“If Borno State can do it when it comes to EVs, many more states can do better. “What is lacking is the political will,” he stated.

 

‘EV, 50% cheaper to maintain than fossil fuel vehicles’ 

Odibo noted that the EV project idea has been in Nigeria for the past 10 years. He said the states ought to have keyed into it by providing EV mass transit vehicles and buses. 

“So, the potential is there, we want to encourage the state governments to do it. It’s time for the state governments to use the subsidy palliatives the federal government has given them to provide such vehicles, which is one thing the people should see on the road and at a very low fee. 

“People should not be made to pay up to half of what they’re paying to enter public buses that are using fuel,” he said. 

A former acting Director-General of NADDC, Mamudu Lukman said: “The greatest challenge to EV adoption is the charging infrastructure. The information I gathered is that the state governments that have deployed these vehicles recharge from a combination of grid and off-grid power like solar charging stations. This is the case in Borno, which recently launched about 100 EV taxis. 

“I suggest that the state government deploy these vehicles to outsource charging stations to a private specialist company. 

“Compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, the EV requires minimal maintenance. Apart from the electric drive chain, Nigerian mechanics are pretty familiar with the rest systems of a vehicle.  Besides, a core of competent EV maintenance engineers will emerge gradually through the trainers’ programmes.” 

Femi Owoeye, a veteran auto journalist and publisher of Motoring World International, advised states to invest in clean energy, especially solar, to power electric vehicles. 

He said each state could set up a solar farm by starting with a few senatorial districts or the state capital before cascading it into local governments.

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