Tag Archives: Africa

How Entrepreneurs Can Pioneer a Sustainable Electric Car Industry in Africa

While Africa is still struggling to have stable electricity, build crude oil refineries and build Assembling-plants for petrol-powered cars, a Tesla electric car recently made a record 1078 km distance on a single charge. Some people still think Electric cars are the future but the truth is that we are already in the era of electric cars. Petrol powered cars are already becoming obsolete.

Electric Car Revolution

There is an electric-car revolution currently going on in the Scandinavian. Norway which is blessed with an enormous oil reserve, has over 100,000 electric cars, while Sweden has over 10,000. Finland’s 1,039-number even comes in below Estonia, where there are already about 1,200 electric cars and vans on the road. Finland has posted a goal: to have 250,000 electric vehicles on the road by the year 2030.

In November of 2016, there were 540,000 electric cars on the road in the USA. According to Forbes, in 2016 alone, 507,000 electric cars were sold in China, a 53% increase from 2015. Meanwhile, 222,200 units were sold in Europe, a 14% increase; and 157,130 units were sold in the United States, a 36% increase from the prior year.

Knowing all these: that Electric vehicles could represent 40% of auto sales and 30% of the global car parc in 20 years, knowing this could be disruptive to petroleum demand — a main source of revenue of African power houses like Nigeria and Angola, by 2030. I am forced to ask “How can Africa countries be part of this development?”

Electric Cars in Africa

In Africa, according to IEA publication South Africa is the only county that has made a significant advancement in the use of electric cars. The stock of electric cars in the country climbed from 30 all-electric cars in 2013 to about 50 in 2013, and as of December 2015, there were about 290 plug-in electric cars registered, consisting of 170 all-electric cars and 120 plug-in hybrids. All the plug-in hybrids were registered in 2015 and according to EVsales, BMW South Africa has plans to introduce electric car sales totaled 80 units during the first three months of 2016.

It’s obvious Africa is being left behind again due to lack of foresight of its governments. Most countries if not all have government incentives or subsidies to promote electric cars but Africa countries do not. African entrepreneurs have to come to the rescue – incentive or no incentive. Most of them have succeeded in business without any help from the government and can pioneer a rapid growth electric car industry in Africa.

The Concept is Simple

Two major trends in energy usage that are expected for future smart grids are: Large-scale decentralized renewable energy production through solar energy system. Emergence of battery electric vehicles as the future mode of transport.

Firstly, the use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy is accessible to a wider audience because of the falling cost of solar energy panels. Industrial sites and office buildings harbour a great potential for solar energy panels with their large surface on flat roofs. Examples include warehouses, industrial buildings, universities, factories, etc. This potential when exploited will enable African countries bypass their inefficient national grid and develop a future smart grid system of renewable energy.

Africa experience good amount of sun shine throughout the year, meaning we can generate enough solar power to charge the batteries of an electric car throughout the year so two sustainable business types can be built around this natural resource: the business of installation of solar-powered charging ports in the home of electric cars owners as they buy their car, and the business of building and running car parks with charging pots powered by solar panels around factories and office building where owners of electric cars can park and charge their cars while at work. An entrepreneur can also install charging ports in the car parks of public, government or private building too. All that is needed is a good deal with the owners of the properties.

So entrepreneurs, Africa needs you to lead this ‘leapfrogging’ or ‘disrupting’ or whatever you want to call it. Africa needs an ‘Elon Musk’ kind of entrepreneur right now to start building the company that will transport Africa for the future.

It is simple: you can easily calculate how much extra solar electricity you’ll need to charge your car. Here’s an example: the 2014 Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, has a combined fuel economy rating of 30 kWh/100 miles – this means the Leaf requires 30 kWh of electricity to drive 100 miles. If you drive 25 miles on an average day, that means you’re using approximately 7.5 kWh of electricity per day – or just over 2,700 kWh of electricity in a given year.

Facebook Reaches 16 Million Users in South Africa

Facebook has passed 16 million users in South Africa, according to regional director for Facebook Africa, Nunu Ntshingila.

Speaking to the SABC, Ntshingila said that the Facebook Africa branch was currently focused on a number of areas including new policies and products, as well as “looking after” a number of businesses in South Africa that make use of the platform “At the end of the day, this office is the centre of innovation,” she said.

“We always have our clients, businesses, and community owners here just to sit down with them and make sure that we are responding to some important issues – and we are learning from them.”

The 16 million represents a major increase – over 4 million more users since the 12 million recorded in September 2016 according to a  WorldWideWorx report.

The report highlighted that while Facebook’s numbers continued to grow, the platform was also seeing increasing engagement. Over the course of 2016, the average number of likes per post grew from 80 to 108.

The average number of comments per post increased from 10 to 12, and, on average, posts are also shared more – growing from 6 to 11 shares per post.

Originally published in BusinessTech

Africa Can’t Leapfrog Industrialization without Infrastructure – Harvard Professor

The wide adoption of mobile phones in Africa, along with finance technologies like mobile banking and e-commerce, the use of drones to transport medical supplies,  the dramatic drop in the cost of solar energy and a lot more accomplishments in other sectors like energy, education, health, transportation, and agriculture points to the widespread adoption of new technologies across Africa.

The success of M-Pesa, a cell-phone-based mobile banking application with 30 million users across 10 countries, threatening to disrupt traditional banking systems around the world  has served as an inspiration to young Africans and has created remarkable technological enthusiasm on the continent.

These successes inevitably lead to talk about how Africa is “leapfrogging” more advanced economies. Leapfrogging, in this context, is when countries skip a step in development thanks to rapid innovation—from no phones to smartphones, for example. The mobile phone, in this context, has allowed African countries to avoid the heavy investments required to build fixed-line networks.

But Professor Calestous Juma of of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School, faults this approach  in his recent paperLeapfrogging Progress, The Misplaced Promise of Africa’s Mobile Revolution. He said,

Overall, the mobile revolution has given hope to Africans that they too can be dynamic and innovative players in the global economy, transcending the continent’s current reliance on raw material exports. But while cases such as M-Pesa offer inspiration, the promise of leapfrogging remains largely unfulfilled.

Juma explains that the failure of the mobile revolution going on in Africa to stimulate industrial development in Africa is partly as a result the  assumption that Africa can leap into the service economy without first building basic infrastructure and a manufacturing base,  which he referred to as a faulty narrative.

Juma, a well-respected advocate for the role of entrepreneurship and technological innovation in Africa’s development, says that African policymakers should revisit their respective industrial policies as there is no shortcut to industrial development.

He points out that no advanced economy got where it is today by cutting corners and sidestepping (that is, leapfrogging) industrialization. He reminds us industrialization requires infrastructure and insists that leapfrogging is not the answer:

Infrastructure is both the backbone of the economy and the motherboard of technological innovation. African countries need adequate infrastructure to realize their full potential.

It is not too late for Africa to become a dynamic and entrepreneurial region driven by innovation. It is certainly right to keep its sights set on technological innovation as an essential driver of economic growth, and as the key to moving beyond the vagaries of commodity exports. But such innovation will depend on industrial development — and the infrastructure and technical capacity it enables — that cannot be leapfrogged.

Moving Africa from its current focus on raw material exports, value addition, and consuming technology to becoming a learning economy and technology producer, will require 21st-century industrial policy that supports continuous interactions among government, industry, and academia in open competitive and collaborative innovation ecosystems. Leapfrogging particular technologies, such as landlines, may in some cases be an option. But industrialization itself, and the innovation and development it generates, cannot be skipped over.