Pure Electric Vehicles (EV) are being seen by most African countries as the technology that will finally help them leapfrog to zero emissions.
This is against the backdrop that Ghana's transport sector is noted to contribute about 47.7% of energy-related carbon emissions.
The development, regulation and utilisation of electric vehicles in the country is, therefore, expected to go a long way to aid reduction in air pollution, carbon emissions and ensure a cleaner, safer environment for the citizenry.
However, the ability to fully implement this policy in Ghana has raised concerns due to affordability, standard enforcements, lack of incentives and stable electricity supply, among others.
What the numbers say
A national baseline survey in Ghana has shown that it costs at least 2.3 times more to operate Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) vehicle than electric vehicles. The Energy Commission of Ghana's ‘Drive Electric Initiative' report indicates that filling up an ICE vehicle is five times more expensive than charging an EV.
In Ghana, road transportation alone accounted for 11% of the country's overall carbon dioxide emissions in 2016, a situation the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes as worrying.
“In 2021, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) reported that standard hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) have the highest representation (91.5%), followed by Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) at 5.1% and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 3.3%,” an International Trade Centre report said.
This report, which has been corroborated by Ghana's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), indicates that about 17,660 plug-in electric vehicles were imported into the country between 2017 and 2021.
While the use of electric vehicles is on the rise in Ghana, calls have been made for more infrastructure. And although ICE vehicles are cheaper to buy than EVs, waiving the import tariff costs could narrow the gap.
Policy to shift public transport to electric vehicles
Ghana's roads have long been plagued by traffic congestion and air pollution, largely due to the use of internal combustion engine vehicles.
Government believes the use of electric vehicles can help to deal with those problems to address the urgent threat of climate change.
Regional consultative engagements have been held to receive feedback from key stakeholders as government finalises the policy framework for EVs.
After the consultations, it is expected that an official launch would be done to make the document a public property.
“As the world moves away from fossil-fueled vehicles to electric vehicles, it is necessary that Ghana moves with the time to ensure that our country does not become a convenient dumping ground for used fossil vehicles,” the Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, said at the Greater Accra Regional consultative engagement held recently.
With Ghana fast urbanizing, the government has initiated a policy for the sustainable adoption, development, and utilization of electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.@YalleyC has more in this report.#MiddayLive pic.twitter.com/ZG487Byv3m
— #TV3GH (@tv3_ghana) October 1, 2023
However, transport operators have raised concerns about the affordability of the vehicles and the charging infrastructure. Stable electricity supply and poor road networks are some critical issues that need to be addressed.
A consultant of the EV Policy Framework and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana's Department of Geography, Dr. Ernest Agyemang, emphasises that there is a need for a living document to serve the needs of the country.
“Already, we have on our hand a situation. That is to say that if you go to Agbogbloshie in Accra, it is known to be the world's largest electronic dump site. So, it is one of the many reasons why there should be a change.”
“There are local startups that are also locally assembling these vehicles and so government needs to have policy regulations in place as we do the transition,” he explained.
Policy analysts have urged effective consumer education about electric vehicle operation, maintenance, repair and charging.
What is accepted generally is that the opportunities that come with the use of electric vehicles outweigh the challenges of same.
Also, it must be acknowledged that the transition from conventional to electric vehicles may not be smooth.
The perspective of an EV driver
For Andrew Jeremiah, driving an electric vehicle comes with some comfort, despite admitting that it has limitations and challenges.
“The experience is different; there is a little comfort and you don't have to count days and think about changing oil, and all that. Since I bought this [EV], my petrol car has been at home. In terms of cost, it depends on how much one charges.”
“The challenge is that this car, the battery, it should not be lower than 20% because of the lifespan of the battery and it's advisable you don't go above 85%,” he told yours truly in an interview.
According to him, he prefers using the electric vehicle more, due to the low cost involved in charging it, as against the cost of fueling his conventional vehicle. On the average, when he charges the battery to about 90%, Andrew says he pays less than GHC50.00. Depending on the distance he covers, he is likely to use the car for about four days before a recharge.
“I will say you can get it [buy an EV] but it shouldn't be the only car one must have – you can also have your fuel-powered car. Definitely, the disadvantages [of using EVs] will start picking up gradually as time goes by.”
“The challenge with electric vehicles is that you can't compare with the speed of petrol car. If I want to travel, I don't go with this car because I will be frustrated – so I prefer to go with my petrol car so I will be quick,” Andrew Jeremiah highlighted.
With the EPA identifying vehicular exhaust emissions as a single largest source of air pollution in Ghana, it becomes very necessary for the country to consider other transport options.
By Christian Yalley | TV3 Ghana | 3news.com