Nigeria: Oando plans electric bus expansion, considers solar, wind projects

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 19 December 2022 10:50

China is the largest global producer of electric buses. REUTERS

Oando plans to expand its electric bus fleet across Nigeria after initial deployment in Lagos, Ainojie Irune, who heads the company’s clean energy unit, tells The Africa Report.

Lagos will be the “flagship” for the buses, which are manufactured by China’s Yutong, in 2023, Irune says.

The buses and chargers arrive in Lagos in January, which will start the “proof-of-concept” phase.

The next priority will be to extend provision to four states in the Niger Delta, to be followed by an “aggressive rollout” over 24 to 36 months to lift the number of states covered to nine.

The clean energy unit is part of Oando Plc, which produces and explores oil and gas and also has a petroleum products trading business.

Solar and natural gas

In June,  Oando Clean Energy signed an agreement with the Lagos transport authority to supply the buses, which run on a combination of solar power and natural gas.

Oando will also consider extending provision to other west African countries in the “foreseeable future”, Irune says.

The fact that the technology is still nascent means the company is open to more sustainable bus and infrastructure partnerships, he adds.

Global electric bus adoption has been showing some signs of starting in Africa.

In Kenya, Roam this year introduced what it claims is the first-ever African-designed electric bus.

Egypt’s government has signed an agreement worth about $28m with international bus manufacturer MCV, and a fleet of electric buses were used to transport attendees at the COP27 summit in November.

The opportunity is large in scale.

  • Diesel buses currently account for almost 40% of all passenger trips in African cities.
  • The continent is forecast to have 10 cities with a population of over 10m people by 2025.

Solar, Wind

The key word here is “bus” and not “electric”.

Researchers such as Alexandre Milovanoff at the University of Toronto have argued that the environmental benefits of using public rather than private transport far outweigh those of using of an electric versus a fossil-fuel-powered private car.

Battery electric cars, such as the Tesla Model 3, have higher production and manufacturing emissions than conventional cars, and often run on electricity that comes from fossil fuels, he argues.

Siobhan McDonough, a researcher at the International Growth Centre, argues that private electric vehicles also have side effects, such as the need for more mining of minerals like lithium and cobalt, as well as increased traffic congestion versus public transport.

Oando’s clean energy unit has yet to contribute revenue to the group. The overall company’s output will evolve to include a “significant” proportion of renewable energy, Irune says, without giving a figure.

The fact that Oando Clean Energy is part of a larger organisation has its advantages, Irune says.

The company has experience in delivering large-scale projects across Africa, and has processes and human resources that new companies may lack, he argues.

“There’s an element of scale needed to make projects bankable.”

  • The company is considering the construction of a modular assembly plant for solar equipment. This is likely to be in southwest Nigeria and could be up and running by 2024, Irune says.
  • Oando is exploring the construction of a 1-gigawatt wind farm offshore Lagos state, he adds. The company in 2023 will carry out studies to identify the best location.

Bottom Line

There is no private method of transport that will reduce carbon emissions, only public ones.

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