Remittances are the main source of capital inflows in low- and middle-income countries. However, unregistered flows through informal channels would be at least 50% larger than those incoming flows through official channels. In Zimbabwe, for example, official Reserve Bank figures show that remittances increased from $1 billion in 2020 to $1.4 billion in 2021. Remittances accounted for 14.4% of the total of the $9.7 billion in foreign exchange inflows that Zimbabwe received last year. Kumbirai Makanza provides great insight and examines how remittances could accelerate renewable energy investments in Africa. Could this remittance market also be a way to catalyze the adoption of electric vehicles in Africa?
Electric vehicle sales are growing quite well in places like the UK where there is a large population of Africans who have moved there to work. Many of these families are now part of the EV driver community there. Last month, the market share of plug-in vehicles in the UK was 16.2% of new vehicle sales.
Admire Monyadiwa, a Zimbabwean living in the UK, is one such EV driver. Admire is a strong advocate for the adoption of electric vehicles. He is a member of several EV groups and forums in the UK and also on social media. He has been driving an electric vehicle since 2014, when he bought a Nissan Leaf which he still uses today. His Leaf has now covered over 90,000 miles. He has since had a Tesla Model S as well as two Tesla Model 3s at that time. He recently replaced his first Model 3 with a newer version equipped with a heat pump. He has also ordered a Model Y and is awaiting delivery.
Over the past two years, Admire has successfully convinced 20 people across its UK network to go electric. Some of them now drive Nissan Leafs, Teslas, Mercedes EQCs and Audi e-trons. A friend of his managed to send a 40 kWh Nissan Leaf to his relatives back in Africa.
It got me thinking, as more and more members of the diaspora community go electric, this presents a great opportunity for them to spread awareness about electric vehicles when interacting with their friends and family. at home. Some of the money sent back to the country is used to finance housing construction and commercial projects. Some of these business projects relate to areas such as agriculture and transport and logistics services.
Just as Admire’s friend sent a 40kWh Nissan Leaf and a 7kW charger to his parents, could there be a significant portion of the diaspora community population that could send electric vehicles back to the House ? One option would be to send their around 5 year old EV home as they upgrade their vehicle in the UK or wherever they have settled. They could also send used electric vans to help run the transportation and logistics services they sponsor back home. In several countries, such as Zimbabwe and Botswana, small city cars and family cars are used as taxis, and most of them operate informally. Over 90% of these vehicles are imported as approximately 8 year old vehicles from Japan and the UK. Could old Renault Zoes or similar join the bandwagon and offer lower running costs given the relentless rises in petrol prices recently?
Some of the inflows that make up the billions of US dollars sent home from abroad come in the form of regular/consistent and fixed monthly amounts to help families back home with rent, groceries, utility bills utilities, tuition, medical bills, and also sponsor small business activities. Some of these small business activities include motorcycle taxis (boda bodas) and delivery services in East and West African countries. Several startups in East and West Africa are now offering financing options for the nascent electric motorcycle industry. Could some of these remittances be used to finance their family and friends back home by helping them acquire or rent these electric motorcycles? Members of the diaspora community could even pay service providers directly at home, as they already do with other services such as utility bills, cell phone talk time and data plans for Cellphones.
All images courtesy of Admire Monyadiwa
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