The Future of Mobility in Africa
There are few investment opportunities in Africa with more obvious potential for financial, environmental and social impact than electric mobility. Annual vehicle sales across the continent are increasing rapidly - at least 10% in most African countries, as compared to 4% in Europe - leading to congestion, air pollution and an increasing fiscal burden of high fuel prices.
On the sunniest continent in the world the internal combustion engine makes absolutely no sense. Why are we spending precious FOREX on diesel, choking our city streets and poisoning the air we breath, when we could be running our cars on solar-powered batteries (which are tumbling in price)? This month we are celebrating the launch of our new electric mobility company, META Electric, part of our renewables division along with Equator Energy, one of Africa’s leading solar power providers. META Electric has received new electric vans, which will be leased to companies in Nairobi who are serious about reducing their carbon footprint. Nairobi bus company Kenya Mpya have signed a contract, a positive sign for the future of greener public transport. Brian Chege is META Electric’s General Manager and describes his purpose as follows: “The fight against climate change is urgent and we need environmental pathfinders who are prepared to go the extra mile at this early stage of adoption. META Group wants to lead the way.” Reliable, environmentally-friendly delivery vehicles will be increasingly important, especially as we go about addressing the physical infrastructure bottlenecks currently holding back the growth of e-commerce. As David Rubia, a Programme Management Officer with UNEP says, it is critical for uptake in Africa that companies like META Electric start investing in electric vehicles: ‘The only way we can demonstrate to governments and consumers that electric mobility has real potential for Africa is if the vehicles are here, on the ground. That requires companies like META Electric to take a leap of faith and invest.” Electric vehicles (EVs) could have a significant impact beyond the environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gases. EV batteries retain a large percentage of their original capacity, even after a long automotive service life, and repurposing them for off- and on-grid energy storage is a huge opportunity. The potential for new industries built around the battery life-cycle is incredibly exciting, and the new, quality jobs this could create are desperately needed by the continent’s growing, young population.