From the Cape to Cairo, green tech startups are leading Africa’s charge toward electric mobility, a critical intervention in the fight against climate change driven by a global tide in the use of electric vehicles (EVs).
However, the continent’s shift to electric mobility lags behind Europe, the US and China; the global frontrunners in electric mobility.
South Africa sold only 92 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in 2020, down from 154 in 2019 and representing 0.02% of domestic vehicle sales. Hybrid sales declined from 253 units in 2019 to 232 units in 2020.
Nonetheless, several countries are developing comprehensive policy frameworks to catalyse the transition and adoption of electric mobility.
Momentum is anticipated to escalate, especially after the European Union (EU) in mid-July proposed phasing-out diesel and petrol car sales in a major market shift by 2035.
This decision will positively impact African countries like South Africa, which exports nearly 64% of its manufactured vehicles to global markets.
Jane Akumu, a programme officer with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), says that while Africa trails other parts of the world in e-mobility, the continent is awakening to the opportunities in the EV market – especially in electric two- and three-wheelers where there is potential for green jobs, local manufacturing and assembly, and business opportunities in charging and battery-swapping.
“We see an interest in many African governments and the private sector in e-mobility today. There is increased interest in more countries to incentivise the uptake of EVs – like Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and many more where governments are looking at EV uptake,” she says.