By Hilary Mare
NAMIBIA has the chance to be the first major mover on the African continent to support a major shift to e-vehicles including e-scooters and e-bikes, Research Associate at the Economic Association of Namibia (EAN), Klaus Schade has said.
In a commentary on the fuel price increase for August released by EAN last week, Schade highlighted that Namibia is also endowed with renewable energy sources to recharge the batteries required to power e-vehicles.
These comments came subsequent to the Ministry of Mines and Energy announcing a fuel price increase of N$0,25 per litre for petrol and diesel country-wide with effect from 1 August 2018.
“Electric vehicles and vehicles running on hydrogen are on the rise globally. Some countries have already set deadlines for the phasing out of combustion engines by the year 2040. Namibia has the chance to be the first major mover on the African continent to support a major shift to e-vehicles including e-scooter, e-bikes and others that are well suited for relatively short daily trips in urban areas.
“They can be re-charged during working hours, lunch breaks or at home during night. Since the country is also endowed with lithium, it should be explored whether it is not viable to produce lithium-ion batteries that power e-vehicles,” said Schade.
The fuel prices increases last week were the third consecutive fuel price increase for petrol and the fourth for diesel. Prices were kept stable for six months between December 2017, May and April 2018 for the two products respectively with petrol prices for Windhoek having increased by 7.9 percent and diesel (50ppm) prices by 10.3 percent since the beginning of the year.
“The continuous subsidisation of fuel could delay necessary adjustments in transport behaviour. Government could therefore consider using the NEF to fund investment necessary to support the shift to e-vehicles and or hydrogen, such as recharging stations at public places. Furthermore, since the Act stipulates that the Fund can be used for research; more resources should be made available for research into more sustainable forms of transport and transport equipment, such as the e-taxi developed by the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
“Hence, rising fuel prices provide the opportunity to chart the way forward for an environmentally-friendly and sustainable transport sector. Not least, this will support Namibia’s efforts to achieve the Agenda 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 13 that aims at combatting climate change,” added Schade.
Earlier this year, a senior UN official called on African governments to put policies and finances in place to start adopting electric vehicles to cut air pollution.
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment, told a conference in Nairobi that the rate of rapid urbanization on the continent urgently calls for new ideas and technologies.
“The rate of urbanization requires the introduction of electric vehicles to help reduce air pollution,” Solheim said while opening Africa Clean Mobility Week Conference. He said Africa’s biggest challenge in the next decade is likely to be urbanization due to the increasing population that calls for additional accommodation and transport.
“If you get urbanization right, it leads to positive development but it is unfortunate if you get it wrong,” he added.
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