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Going Green: As Electric Cars Creep Into Nigeria, Are Nigerian Engineers And Alaba-Lagos Electronics Market Ready For Auto Conversions?

The Oasis Reporters

September 24, 2018

Automobile conversion from petrol to electric power.
New engineers from the University of Ibadan, inducted into the Nigerian Society of Engineers. Can they find opportunities in this?


The huge challenge facing the Nigerian Oil industry at present is the looming threat of electric cars coming from China, India etc , with homemade manufacture of basic electric automobiles in Aba, South East of the country added to the mix. Ignore it or accept it, changes in the industry must come to bear and to stay. The expected stream will pose a threat to the oil and gas market, mainstay of the Nigerian economy. If petrol consumption tanks, People, especially in the rural areas would welcome the many opportunities that the Sun and solar appliances would apply to their long neglected living conditions.

Several years after the oil boom era that made Nigeria reasonably affluent, unprecedented consumer spending peaked, such that under the Gen. Yakubu Gowon regime (1966 to 1975), the head of State once boasted that Nigeria had so much money, the problem was in spending it. Nigerians then bought brand new cars imported or assembled at Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, Kaduna and Bauchi facilities until the military adventurers after Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo plunged the country into unmitigated poverty due to sheer mismanagement. And all the automobile assembly plants closed down. The coming of President Goodluck Jonathan revived a better deal for the auto industry with an indigenous private entrepreneur getting the encouragement and license to set up the Innoson Automotive Vehicles Manufacturing plant.
Due to the economic decline precipitated by the military, the Nigerian currency, the naira lost its value and purchasing power eroded, such that 90 Percent of Nigerians who opted to buy cars were only able to purchase fairly used or discarded second hand old model or damaged cars from Europe or the Americas.
Manufacturing firms of other goods as well, exited the country as not many people could afford their products, enough to sustain them in business, neither was the atmosphere conducive for investments.
Nigerians living in Europe and the Americas saw an opportunity in fairly used vehicles which they bought off auto marts at bargain prices and ship them back home, since the days of the Structural Adjustment Program, SAP, of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida as the country’s military head of State. Vehicles of such nature have become the bedrock of Nigeria’s transportation network.
This time, the vehicles face an existential threat as fossil fuel driven vehicles will have to give way to cleaner electric cars that in the long run, save on fuel purchase. So where would the old cars go? Which land or garage would contain them and who would buy them off Nigerians going green, more so as petrol stations would of necessity give way or convert to electric charging stations?
There is a likely solution staring Nigerians in the face. Since technology brought the fossil fuel driven cars and later moved on to electricity driven cars, perhaps Nigerian engineers we churn out from the universities and polytechnics every year with no ready jobs to absorb them; can there not be an avenue to invent, train and retrain them on converting the 2,000 parts petrol cars to a more manageable 18 spare parts electric cars in the nation’s academic institutions? The guess is that it can be done, giving room to a whole new industry that vehicle owners would gladly welcome and pay for, considering that the purchase of petrol or gas would come to an abrupt end, leading to huge savings of several billions of naira across the country daily. The money guzzling petrol subsidy regime would come to an end and the petroleum industry that has refused to reinvent itself would die a natural death. A win-win for the ordinary people of the country who benefitted nothing from the oil industry. Not even decent clinics or improved living conditions in other sectors.
The booming trade in imported goods ranging from electronics, automobiles, clothing materials, hospital equipment etc generates over 100 billion naira annually and employs more than ten million Nigerians from importation to haulage, repairs, sales etc.
Alaba International Market (Electronics) took off at its new location in Alaba, Ojo, on April 18 1978. The area which was then a forest but the dogged efforts of the founding fathers of this market saw the forest give way to a modern market which has become international in all respects.
Today Alaba International Market (Electronics) stands tall among all organized markets the world over and stands to benefit in any auto conversion plan as sellers of electronic and electrical goods with links up to China, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, all of Europe and the Americas. It is also an electronics referral market all over Africa, as converted petrol vehicles to electric cars would be purchased and sold all over Africa, for vehicles converted in Nigeria.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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