With over 25 million residents, Lagos is Africa's most populous city and among the top ten of the world’s fastest-growing megacities. Over the last decade, the number of vehicles on Lagos roads has quadrupled, yet studies suggest that Lagos could become the world’s most populated city by 2100 with as many as 100 million residents; and as the city grows, so will the number of vehicles.
This upward trajectory in vehicle numbers poses a significant challenge as transportation has been identified as the key contributing sector in annual CO2 emissions. However, Lagos is one of 1136 cities across the world that has signed up for the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, all working towards the realization of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In 2022, Oando Clean Energy Limited (OCEL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the agency tasked with planning, implementing, regulating and franchising sustainable integrated public transport in Lagos.
The MoU focused on the rollout of electric mass transit buses, supporting charging infrastructure and service centers. "With an understanding that transportation is a key emitter of greenhouse gases in Nigeria, we developed a strategy to cut greenhouse gases by 50%," Frederic Oladeinde, Lagos transport commissioner, says. "A key component of this strategy was identifying and developing a more robust mass transit system for Lagos that would include rail and waterways amongst others. Using electricity to power mass transit is a step in the right direction, and from there we would gradually transit to private cars."
Over the weekend, Lagos governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced the delivery of two electric buses for the state's mass transit scheme. "I am excited to announce the first set of electric buses in the Lagos Mass Transit Master Plan as part of our increased effort to modernise every sector of Lagos," he tweeted. "Our new electric buses will not only reduce carbon emissions but will also increase efficiency."
According to Sanwo-Olu, the buses can travel 280km at full charge daily. Its important to note that the existing non-EVs public buses record an average daily usage of 200km. "There is no need to fear that the buses can stop while in transit," he added.
Equipped with air conditioning and Wi-Fi, the electric busses were manufactured by Yutong Bus Co Limited, arguably the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer.
"This is a watershed moment for Yutong. It’s our first delivery of electric mass transit buses in Sub-Saharan Africa and the first step in the large-scale deployment of an electric powered public road transport system in Nigeria," Frank Lee, Managing Director, Yutong West Africa stated. "We are...hopeful to see a quick turnaround in our joint plans to advance all facets of the country’s transition to eco-friendly vehicles, including the development of local capacity through the delivery of, and exposure to extensive training programs for all stakeholders, from drivers to operators and the regulators."
The delivery of the charging stations and spare parts necessary to ensure their effective operation have also been made, according to Oando.
Commenting further, the Chairman, OCEL, Adewale Tinubu, said: "Audacity and innovation have always been key tenets in our journey to transform Nigeria’s energy future. It’s this spirit that has brought us to this juncture today – at the forefront of propelling Nigeria towards realizing her net-zero targets. The arrival of our electric mass transit buses and development of an EV infrastructure ecosystem is a reminder that the only way to remain ahead of the curve is by being unafraid to break new ground and consistently looking for opportunities to leapfrog. Furthermore, this project underscores the African saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’ Public-Private Partnerships have been critical to getting the project to this point and will continue to fuel our expansion across the entire country."
Through this partnership, about 12,000 electric buses will be on Lagos roads over the next seven years. "The development of a sustainable transport ecosystem is much more than the deployment of electric vehicles; it’s about reducing the carbon footprint of the seven million public transport commuters and positively impacting the socio-economic indices surrounding transportation," President & CEO of OCEL, Dr. Ainojie Irune, added.
EV adoption in Africa
In March, Uber disclosed that it has been engaging with African governments to develop policies that will enable the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) on the continent, starting with South Africa. "Government lays the foundation of the country moving in a more sustainable environment, but the government cannot do that alone," Frans Hiemstra, GM for Uber in the Middle East and Africa region said.
By 2030, the ride-hailing companies wants EVs to be used for 25% of the kilometers covered by its vehicles.
Recently, the European Union has approved a $378 million financing for Kenya to boost the country’s Bus Rapid Transport System which will be run by EVs. Cleantech companies like BasiGo, Opibus, Kiri, Nopea Ride, EVM Africa, Caetano, and Agilitee Africa have since commenced the usage of this vehicles in the East African country.
In fact, last year, BasiGo, a Kenyan cleantech startup raised a $4.3 million seed to kick off an EV assembly plant in Nairobi and to launch the sales and delivery of its electric buses.