The current transport situation
All of the travel disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have given us time to think about global transport. At the moment, sub-Saharan Africa’s transport is almost entirely fuel-based. This is becoming more expensive for citizens, as fuel prices continue to rise. Furthermore, pollution from fuel-based transport, such as the release of nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, is a major contributor to air quality concerns in cities. As population growth and migration to cities continues, vehicle ownership will rise, making these problems worse.
The adoption of electric vehicles combats these issues. As an alternative to fossil fuel use, electric vehicles are crucial for combating climate change, which is increasingly having a negative effect on regions in sub-Saharan Africa. Electric vehicles don’t produce any toxic gases through their exhaust pipes, which will improve air quality in cities. Even though 63% of vehicle owners think that electric vehicle options are beyond their budgets, they can actually help to save money on fuel. In this way, electric vehicles provide a clean-energy, lower-cost path.
What are the barriers?
At the moment, there are some barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles. For example, electric vehicles will only be able to be widely used if charging stations are accessible. This requires government investment in public charging infrastructure, which is not happening because of more immediate expenditure priorities. Furthermore, reliable power supplies need to be present at relatively low costs. Currently, electric vehicles are rare in sub-Saharan Africa and charging resources remain uncommon.
What is the future of transport?
Despite this, the adoption of electric transport is happening. For example, Kenya has recently secured funding to electrify its rail system. Furthermore, “cleantech” (technology that aims to be environmentally-friendly) is thought to be one of Africa’s big emerging sectors. As a result, big investments in sub-Saharan Africa’s electric power capacity are expected in the next decade. For example, the UN (a global organisation which aims to keep international peace) is looking to develop electric vehicles in at least ten African countries.
Ultimately, electric vehicles are the transport of the future. Every major global car manufacturer now has electric vehicles in commercial production. By 2040, experts reckon that 54% of global car sales will be electric vehicles. As investment in this area increases in sub-Saharan Africa over the next ten years, demand for electric vehicles will rise as the vital infrastructure needed is set up in cities.