Drive to Grow EV Uptake in Africa


Drive to Grow EV Uptake in Africa

Although the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in Africa is still low, some countries in the continent have made strides in the expansion of their respective EV markets through passing of investment friendly regulations and partnering with global Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other eMobility technology firms, particularly in the installation of charging infrastructure in anticipation of an increase in demand.

For a region where owning an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle is still an expensive affair, scaling up manufacture and supply of EVs is still held back by the high cost of the vehicles, but more by the lack of adequate capacity to manufacture, distribute and install EV charging infrastructure.

Currently, one of the outstanding issues in countries where uptake of EV is growing, such as South Africa and Rwanda, is how to harness the synergies of parking lot operators with those of OEMs and technology firms developing charging stations in these underdeveloped EV markets.

The emerging trend, especially in South Africa, which resonates with elsewhere in the global EV market, is EV owners preferring to park their cars at facilities with EV charging stations.

Ideally, says George Wachira, Director of the Nairobi-based Petroleum Focus Consultants, “any facility or yard that defines itself as vehicle parking will be convenient for installing EV chargers.”

Both the parking service providers and charging station operators have to partner with power utility companies such as Eskom in South Africa, Rwanda Energy Group Limited in Rwanda, and Kenya Power & Lighting Company in Kenya to ensure adequate and stable electricity.

However, several OEMs, eMobility service providers such as taxi hailing operators and technology firms have partnered with State institutions in Africa to develop the EV charging infrastructure that is likely to transform existing garage parking or like the case of South Africa led to launch of new parking solutions that are integrated with renewable energy technology.

In Rwanda, the government and private sector are implementing the ‘Moving Rwanda’ initiative that entails launch of new EV charging stations as more data is collected and collated on users’ charging habits.

Germany technology giant Siemens, under the ‘Moving Rwanda’ program, has in recent past installed a few EV charging stations combining a mix of 22KW AC, and also 50KW DC chargers “for rapid charging” to serve the more than 50 electric VW Golfs supplied in the city of Kigali under the program.

“In the first phase of the project, the partners want to gather important information about the reception of electric vehicles and about users’ charging habits,” says Siemens regarding the ‘Moving Rwanda’ project. The project is a digital mobility project in which the company has partnered with other German institutions including the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the German development agency GIZ, Volkswagen, Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing (SAP), and engineering firm Inros Lackner.

 “Later they plan to open the charging stations to other users like companies, fleet operators, and private vehicle owners,” it adds.

Although Rwanda’s EV ecosystem has just started being built, Siemens’ Chief Executive Officer for Southern and Eastern Africa Sabine Dall’Omo says the company “has received strong interest in our charging solutions particularly from the East and West Africa regions and we are considering launching similar projects in other countries.”

In Africa, it is the South Africa EV market, for both full electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, that has made huge strides in growth, with an estimated 214 public chargers installed in strategic transportation stations such as shopping malls, airports and along major highways. The charging stations, many of them rolled out by the private sector, are largely located in or near the city of Johannesburg and are largely AC charging stations due to increasing demand from consumers in residential properties, shopping malls, dealerships and fuel filling stations.

The number of EVs in South Africa has gone up 167 percent since January 2018 to at least 1,000 currently, according to the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi), with the BMWi3 model appearing to be most preferred probably due to its affordability compared to other EV vehicles.

The increase is in line with South Africa’s submission to the Paris Agreement on climate change in which the government committed to have at least 2.9 million electric cars on the road by 2050 and invest approximately R6.5 trillion in the industry over the next 40 years.

Currently, South Africa’s EV market is dominated by OEMs such as BMW (South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd, Volkswagen Group South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Nissan South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Toyota South Africa Motors (Pty) Ltd and Isuzu South Africa.

OEMs such as Nissan and BMW have launched EV charging stations using Chademo and Construction Computer Software (CCS) connectors, respectively.

Mercedes-Benz SA Ltd has also recently moved to transform the experience of EV owners at the garage or parking lot by introducing the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox Home.

The solution, the company explains is “intelligently connected innogy eBox Professional or a standard charging cable connected to a conventional domestic mains socket.”

Elsewhere in South Africa, government has partnered with OEMs and other private firms to launch uYilo (local Xhosa language for ‘to create’) eMobility Programme that mobilizes various stakeholders in the EV
market’s charging infrastructure segment “to collate the current landscape of public chargers.” 

Assuming the African economies will continue growing and support higher incomes to drive demand for EV, the region’s governments and state power utilities are likely to promote expansion of more EV charging infrastructure and general uptake of eMobility solutions through enacting industry-friendly regulations and introducing incentives to attract investment in the market.

For example, in Kenya, where Finnish company EkoRent has launched Nopia Ride, a taxi hailing service of electric cars, with at least five AC charging stations in the country’s capital Nairobi, the government has proposed a reduction on the excise duty for all vehicles with only electric motor for propulsion from 20 percent to 10 percent.

The Kenyan government has also, through the Kenya Bureau of Standards, a State standards regulatory body, developed and adopted standards that apply to electric vehicles imported into the country with details on specifications and testing procedures for safety aspects, as well as performance and power consumption elements.

Shem Oirere is Parking Today’s on the ground reporter in Africa. He can be reached at

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