The age of electric vehicles is a fairytale playing out in reality. Today, vehicles are largely dependent on fuel, whether diesel or petrol. Unfortunately, with the way the combustion engines we have in our vehicles are designed, there isn’t always complete or perfect combustion. The consequence of this is that our vehicles release some gases in the air. Whether we know it or not, these gases are gradually harming our dear Earth. And this is exactly why electric vehicles are a fairytale: You can use your cars without emitting these Earth-depleting gases. Electric vehicles run on electricity, and when they run low on power, you simply charge them like you would charge your phone.
Today, many countries are already embracing this technology, and quickly. Norway, the leading country when it comes to the percentage of electric vehicles on its roads, said they want to go fully electric by 2025. This is quite feasible for them as they are halfway there already. However, what about our dear country, Nigeria? Are we joining this wave or are we going to wait and watch while these good things pass us by? This brings us to the first question.
Is Nigeria ready for electric vehicles?
I want to give a straight answer but it isn’t all that simple. There are a lot of factors to put into consideration. You probably already have an answer in your head, and that’s fine. Just spare me some minutes to explain myself.
Why Nigeria may not be ready for electric vehicles
Well, these reasons are quite obvious to Nigerians. The first reason that probably comes to mind is;
1. Lack of consistent electricity
A country that wants to depend on electricity to power a sector as critical and important as the transportation sector must have a consistent power supply. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for Nigeria. According to USAID, Nigeria “ has the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts (MW) of electric power from existing plants, but most days is only able to generate around 4,000 MW”. But you might want to argue that we could use a generator to charge the cars. Theoretically, you can. But logically, you shouldn’t. Generators run on fuel themselves. So if you are using a generator that runs on fuel to charge an electric vehicle, it defeats the purpose of using electric vehicles.
In April 2019, a bill that was meant to stop the use of petrol cars was dismissed. Let’s not forget how important “oil money” is to the affluence of many powerful Nigerians today. Also, Nigeria earns a lot from the foreign export of crude oil. You would expect any potential blockage that might want to cut down the gains from this “oil money” to be quickly trampled upon by the Ogas at the top, wouldn’t you?
Who are we kidding? Nigeria, though has its own fair share of billionaires, is a poverty-stricken country. According to a report by the World Poverty Clock, Nigeria, which has a population of about 200 million, currently has 95million people living in extreme poverty. That’s about half the country not being able to feed themselves. In case you need a gentle reminder, hungry people don’t buy cars, petrol-fueled or electricity-powered.
For these reasons, it is safe to conclude that Nigeria is in no way ready for electric vehicles. But there are two sides to a coin.
Why Nigeria may be ready for electric vehicles
These aren’t things that are immediately obvious until you think deeper. Here are some reasons why Nigeria may be ready for electric vehicles:
Many electric vehicles being produced have quite impressive ranges; how far they can go on a single charge. Most of them have ranges that range from 200km to 600km. Now that is quite impressive, especially if you’re travelling within a city. So let us assume that you are travelling from Badagry to Ita Oko Island in Lagos, two extreme ends of the State. According to Google Maps, the distance is 158km. The implication of this is that you can go this distance in the electric vehicles with the smallest ranges on just one full charge. Definitely, this is a good thing.
2. Cost of electric vehicles
Electric cars aren’t all that expensive. According to Quartz, the average cost of electric cars is $36,000 (about NGN13 million), and according to MoneyUnder30, the average cost of the normal car is $33,000 (about NGN12 million). As you can see, there isn’t much difference between the two costs.
3. Charging Cost
Tesla Model S, one of the most powerful electric cars today, has a battery capacity of 100kWh. Many other electric vehicles have battery capacities of less than 75kWh. In Nigeria, commercial electricity tariffs range from as low as 20NGN to about 64NGN per kWh, depending on the distribution company (disco). As a matter of fact, only a handful of discos charge as high as 64NGN, and this charge is only reserved for HV Maximum Voltage commercial uses. But for the sake of argument, let’s use the 64NGN charge for the high-end electric vehicle, Tesla Model S. To charge the Tesla Model S fully, it would cost 64NGN multiplied by 100kWh, equating to 6,400NGN. Do not forget that Tesla Model S has a range of 600km.
Toyota Corolla, one of the most fuel-efficient cars in Nigeria has a fuel economy of 12.75kilometers per liter within a city. For Corolla to go as far as 600km, it would cost about 6,900NGN at an average price of 147NGN per litre of petrol. This is a good bargain if you ask me, especially when you’re just comparing one of the most power-hungry of the electric vehicles to one of the most fuel-efficient of the petrol-fueled vehicles. Also, you can also have your own private charging spot for your own electric car, reducing the cost of electricity to as low as 4NGN per kWh.
By the way, just as there are public filling stations for petrol-fueled vehicles, there is something similar for electric vehicles. They are called Public Charging Stations.
4. Cost of repairs and maintenance
Unlike the petrol-fueled cars that are more likely to develop faults because of their many moving parts, electric cars don’t have as many moving parts. Consequently, there is less need to make repairs on electric cars.
Wrapping it all up
I guess you now understand my dilemma. For good reasons, you can argue for and against the fact that Nigeria is ready for electric vehicles.
However, here’s what I think if you want to buy an electric car: As an individual in Nigeria, you can buy an electric car if you can afford it. You just have to make sure you have your own charging space at your home. Also, whenever you want to use your electric car, make sure you do your calculations to know if your battery is charged well enough to take you to your destination and back home.
What do you think about all these? You can drop your comments in the comment section below.
Have an electrifying day!