By Kirk Leigh
U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Marisa Lago has identified four challenges to the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Nigeria.
She made her observation this afternoon (Tuesday) at the Microsoft Garage Electric Vehicle Hackathon in Lagos.
Lago, who is committed to combating the climate crisis and views EVs as critical technologies to facilitate the clean energy transition and create new jobs in the process, said the first challenge to EV adoption is the availability of supportive infrastructure.
“The availability of charging stations is a fundamental aspect of the enabling environment for an EV industry to thrive. But there is a chicken-and-egg conundrum since companies are not likely to invest in charging infrastructure until there’s a critical mass of EV drivers. Equally, individuals will be reluctant to buy EVs until there is a reasonable charging infrastructure”, she noted.
The second requirement for EV adoption, she said, is the cost of EVs, “which are still relatively high compared to conventional vehicles”. She suggests, however, that these costs can be cut through local manufacturing, targeted investment in R&D, or collaborations with industry leaders from around the world to achieve economies of scale.
According to Lago, the third ingredient will be that “to attract both domestic and foreign players in the sector, it will be critical to have a supportive regulatory framework of consistent policies, standards, and regulations that are aligned with international best practices that encourage investment and innovation”.
Finally, Lego, who is visiting Nigeria for the second time, noted that in addition to advancing EV technology, “we must equip the workforce with the education and skills necessary to support the growth of the industry. A skilled workforce can fill the employment opportunities generated by the growth of the sector, positioning Nigeria as a regional hub for manufacturing, maintenance, and technology development”.
She believes the ongoing hackathon will illuminate the challenges and generate novel solutions faced by Nigeria and other countries looking to adopt EVs. “Of one thing I am certain, the full design and implementation of your solutions will require close collaboration among public and private sector stakeholders and the research community”, she enthused.
“Your well-deserved reputation as innovators is the primary reason that I am in Nigeria, leading a Trade Mission comprised of minority- and veteran-owned businesses. These cutting-edge U.S. companies are eager to find opportunities to expand business relationships with their Nigerian counterparts. And, with “four ICT companies on this trade mission, you may well find that one of them can be a key partner to help achieve your goals.
To state the obvious, the transition to EVs presents a tremendous opportunity to drive innovation in the automotive sector and provide good-paying jobs for Nigerians while simultaneously addressing climate change and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Now that is a virtuous cycle”.