The Nigerian senate witnessed a turning point in the debate when the issue of electronic vehicles (EV) was presented and Ben Bruce called for adoption of the technology for transportation. A lot of dailies presented the debate with catchy headlines like “As Oil Producers, we should frustrate the adoption of Electric vehicles”, with this sensational and catchy headline, Nigerians went emotional and berserk without looking at the underlying economic implications of fast adoption of EV in Nigeria. Murray-Bruce had sponsored a bill for an Act to phase out petrol vehicles by 2035 and introduce electric cars. In his argument, the senator had argued that electric cars are healthy, economical and would not deplete the ozone layer.
“In no distant time, combustible vehicles would be phased out; and the earlier Nigeria buys into the change, the better…“I own an electric car that I have been using for the past five years. It is cheaper to maintain and durable,” Bruce Opined.
In today’s ever changing, ever evolving world, there has been calls for the use of electric cars/vehicles ( EV) and as it is with other parts of the world, Nigeria has caught the bug of “do we go for EV” a motion that was presented to the senate floor by Ben Bruce. This has brought up debate on the use of the EV as a mode of transport and Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President has made his position clear on the use of the nascent technology calling for caution and he has also presented his argument which is hinged on factors such as deficit of infrastructure and other things.
Nigerians are known to be tech savvy, always embracing new trends in technology without minding the consequences and economic implications of these technologies that they are quick to adopt for everyday usage. In Nigeria today, there is dearth or little home grown technology due to the lack of enabling environment for these technologies to thrive , especially in the area research and development facilities in the country which have been grossly underfunded. This situation has placed Nigeria as the biggest technology consumer in Sub Saharan African and the black world. This is the position that Ekweremadu is trying to point out to Nigeria by stating his position.
Yes, using Electronic Vehicles is one whole new level and also deepening our strides in the environmental community and green activist, but let us forget about sentiments and look at these things from economic and logical point of view. Do we really have issues with the environment apart from desertification, which is caused by the indiscriminate felling of trees in North and deforestations! These can be corrected by proper sensitization and the orientation of the masses and also Bruce has to head this by encouraging the folks from his side of the country to stop bursting pipelines. Theses singular act of the youths in the Niger Delta area is inimical to our environmental sustainability.
As an oil producing nation, it would be akin to shooting oneself in the foot if we allow the quick adoption of electric cars. Doing so would bring our nation to the knees! Who would buy our petroleum derivatives? Nigeria is a mono economy with an infinitesimal percentage coming from non-oil sectors like Information communication technology, entertainment and others. Oil still is the main driver of the economy, adopting the electric would be losing our domestic market and also encouraging others to stay away from our product and this would be suicidal for us. Do we go the electronic car route? The answer is NO! As you can see, Ike Ekweremadu is making economic sense.
If we take it to the angel of productivity, Nigeria is a country as we pointed out is ab initio, we are trying to come to terms with technology exportation and production. We have indigenous firms like Innoson, Proforce and other indigenous car manufacturing and assembly plants that must have invested billions in this project. These car plants are trying to scale up production and compete with the international brands like Toyota, Mazda etc. allowing this brand new technology of Electric Cars would throw these companies out of businesses, we are not even talking about other industries like the battery plants in Nnewi, the engine oil producers, the transmission and brake fluid producers in the country, a policy like this would be a death sentence to these companies and throw them out of business with attendant consequences like job loss and crime surge. Do we want this for our country, the answer is NO! We can give these industries grace period of 10 – 20 years for them to scale up and evolve with the new technology before we can go Electric vehicles.
A country that is yet to come to terms with critical infrastructure such as electricity and great roads wouldn’t be thinking of introducing electric vehicle in order to please the environmentalists. These cars run on electricity, they need to be charged and not by generators but by national grids! Can we afford this? NO, we must look at the basics such as building great infrastructure that would support the electric vehicles when they come. As it stands now, we don’t have this, our roads are death traps and our electricity is far from good and a step above worst. We must not place the cart before the horse, we must look at the imperatives and do them before we go environmental.
As we ponder on electric vehicles, we must also bear in mind that these would be imported. My secondary economics have made me understand that importation of finished products in any country isn’t a great way to go. As we import these electric cars, jobs are lost, Naira devalued and FOREX sought after. These are pointers to negative economy. I am thinking that Ike Ekweremadu must have looked at the economic implications of these things.
A country that majority of its citizens are driving fairly used cars known in local parlance as “Tokunbo” shouldn’t be bothered about sublime yearnings of few, we should be particular about building a robust economy that would support the electric cars. We can’t afford to sacrifice our economic emancipation on the altar of “technology correctness” or that of “environmental promise”. Electronic cars are very good, it helps in removing our carbon footprints, but we must understand that many countries in the developed world still have coal fired turbine that power their electricity, coal has one of the biggest impact in carbon footprint and countries like the USA still have coal power plants! “In simple words, Ekweremadu was and is never against the use of electric cars. He is simply saying that the basic infrastructures such as the road and electricity ought to be fixed first and securely to a manageable level before mandating the use. Simple logic. It is called an electric car for a REASON and not solar car my friend”, Celestine Achi remarked.
ANTHONY EMEKA NWOSU
These cars run on electricity, they need to be charged and not by generators but by national grids! Can we afford this? NO, we must look at the basics such as building great infrastructure that would support the electric vehicles when they come. As it stands now, we don’t have this, our roads are death traps and our electricity is far from good and a step above worst. We must not place the cart before the horse, we must look at the imperatives and do them before we go environmental.