JAKARTA - Nigerian entrepreneur Mustapha Gajibo has been able to convert a gasoline-fueled mini-bus into an electric vehicle at his workshop. But now he's gone a step further to build a solar battery-powered bus from scratch in a bid to promote clean energy and reduce pollution.
The country's main crude oil producer and exporter from Africa has a policy of providing massive gasoline subsidies and uneven electricity supply for its people. This makes for a combination that might discourage anyone from investing in electric vehicles in Nigeria.
But Gajibo, a 30-year-old dropout student and resident of the city of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, is not daunted. He said rising global oil prices and pollution made electric vehicles a valuable alternative in Nigeria.
In his workshop, he has removed the combustion engines from 10 mini-buses, powering them with solar batteries. The buses, which have only been operating for just over a month, are capable of covering a distance of 100 km on a single charge.
His most ambitious project is to build an electric bus from scratch. They will be equipped with solar panels and batteries.
"As I speak to you now in our workshop, we are building a 12-seater bus that can cover a distance of up to 200 kilometers on a single charge," Gajibo said, as quoted by Reuters.
"Before the end of this month we will launch the bus, which will be the first of its kind in all of Nigeria," he said, adding that his workshop had the capacity to produce 15 buses in a month.
In Nigeria, like much of Africa, electric vehicles are not yet gaining traction because they are more expensive and there is little electricity and no infrastructure to charge vehicles in many African countries.
For now, Gajibo has one solar-powered battery charging station. Apart from that, there are other obstacles such as a shortage of foreign currency which makes it difficult to import spare parts. So, he looked for the source in Nigeria.
"We have replaced some materials with local materials to lower costs and maximize profits," Gajibo said.
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