The Sustainable Development Goals, introduced in 2015 by the United Nations, were designed to help the world transition towards a cleaner and greener economy to fight climate change. Energy use in transport has increased significantly in correlation with world population growth and economic development. Improving the energy efficiency of vehicles, aircraft and ships and increasing the share of renewables in the fuel mix is crucial to achieving the targets set out in SDG 7.
This global shift is imperative to achieve net zero carbon emissions and combat global warming. Mobility and transportation are the driving sector towards net-zero emissions and reducing the global carbon footprint. According to the IEA, global transport emissions increased by less than 0.5% in 2019 (compared with 1.9% annually since 2000) owing to efficiency improvements, electrification, and greater use of biofuels. Currently, total global emissions from this sector are 24% of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. Transport is linked with virtually all SDGs and directly impacts on the progress in achieving the SDGs and their targets.
As the world slowly moves to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, the mobility and transportation sector has seen some very marked advancements. The advancement in four-wheel vehicles to electricity powered light-air aircrafts have ascertained that Electric Vehicles are here to stay. Advancements and improvements in battery life, vehicle size and longevity are all contributing factors to the rapid rise of electric vehicular sales. Overall, electric car deployment has been growing rapidly over the past ten years, with the global stock of electric passenger cars passing 5 million in 2018, an increase of 63% from the previous year. This recent trend has helped in reducing the many myths surrounding electric vehicles and their efficiency, increasing public confidence and trust.
A combination of innovation, rapidly falling costs and technology improvements mean that electric mobility is expanding fast in vehicle markets across the world. While western markets had a much easier integration process, it will be hard for eastern or developing countries to fully shift to electric vehicles. These countries struggle with energy access and accessibility and mobility would only increase the burden on the already strained power sector. There is also the added challenge of the rural and urban divide. Rural areas are less likely to fully adapt to this new change as both the distance and the financial costs would be considerable. In Nigeria, the transport sector contributes to 28.4 % of total GHG emissions, the second-largest contributor after the energy industries (40.7%). The country is known for its hydrocarbon industry and is thus, mostly reliant on fossil fuel powered cars. With the increase in sales, renewed pacts on tackling climate change and the rise in global temperatures, this picture may soon be disrupted.
Electric vehicles are still considered a rarity in Nigeria. There are several reasons for this. According to the Climate Technology Sector and Network, lack of regulation on the importation of electric vehicles means that vehicles are largely traded in the second-hand vehicle market with no regulatory measures or ban on vehicle standards/importation (ex. age, emission level etc). Policies geared towards infrastructure development and financial incentives are largely absent. The Nigerian government has yet to create a substantial mobility plan targeted to cater to the needs of the e-mobility market. Currently, there are no requirements on operators of public charging stations in connection with technical performance standards. There is no high- level government plan for the maintenance and availability of public charging stations with the necessary cooperation of service providers which is essential in rolling out E-Mobility.
However, projects such as the launching of the first 100 percent solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station, are a step in the right direction. The collaboration between the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) and Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS), involves the study, monitoring and evaluation of the entire system of solar cells, storage units and electric vehicles in various climatic and usage conditions in order to develop even more effective solutions for Nigerian and African applications. There is a need and a market for new renewable sources of energy that can power these charging stations using clean and efficient technology. Indigenous companies in Nigeria, such as Siltech and MAX, have already successfully introduced their electric vehicle designs in the market, indicating further development and production. With government support, legislation and funding, Nigeria could become a trailblazer in the e-mobility sector.
E-mobility is an essential part of Clean Technology Hub and its Energy Access department. The organization is focused on researching and analyzing the different market opportunities and feasibility required to introduce and boost e-mobility in Nigeria. Middle income countries, such as Nigeria, can benefit from the lack of infrastructure by grabbing the opportunity to invest in clean energy options. With a robust population, Nigeria is abundant and rich in human resources. This is an added bonus for the oil dependent state as it can focus its energy and funds on creating clean energy technology and options by financing homegrown ventures and entrepreneurship. These homegrown technologies will be relatively inexpensive, easier to incorporate in the Nigerian sector, would provide employment opportunities, and rearrange the mobility sector in the country. Cars developed in Nigeria would be more accessible to use when compared to cars that are imported at a much higher cost.
There is an enormous potential for clean energy and electric vehicles in Nigeria. Right now, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive policy structure, government legislation, and an economic framework that is modeled to facilitate green vehicle rollout and renewable fuel options. With a booming population and the volatility of global oil prices, e-mobility will be vital for Nigeria’s clean and green economic future.
Fibha Nazim* is currently a Masters Candidate at the University of Waterloo in the Masters of Development Practice (MDP) and a Renewable Energy Access Analyst and Research Associate at the Clean Technology Hub, conducting extensive research on the recent adoption of E-mobility in Nigeria.