*Electric buses will be produced in Nigeria – OCEL boss
By Chinedu Ogbonna
Oando Clean Energy Limited (OCEL), the renewable energy subsidiary of Oando, Nigeria’s leading energy solutions provider, in partnership with the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) on Tuesday marked the formal commencement of operations of its electric mass transit buses in a grand ceremony at Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL) Head Office, Illupeju, Lagos.
The initiative aimed at transitioning the Lagos State public transport system through the development of a pathway to a carbon free mobility ecosystem within the State, has been applauded by all stakeholders as the EV buses will provide a viable, competitive, and environmentally friendly alternative to the current internal combustion engine mass transit buses.
In her welcome remarks the Managing Director of LAMATA, Engr. Abinbola Akinajo, highlighted the importance of Public-Private-Partnerships, by saying; “This initiative is a major aspect of our vision for transportation in Lagos State, we are desirous of having a clean and efficient transportation system. Today’s event is proof of our desire to involve the private sector in our activities to give the average Lagosian the ability to meet their mobility needs.
“LAMATA is a multi-fuel transport regulatory agency for Lagos hence the partnership with OCEL for the use of EV buses in passenger operations. From LAMATA’s perspective we are open to do business with the private sector whilst ensuring that these partners are aligned with the vision of Lagos state. I am elated that in just over a year that Oando Clean Energy came to us to discuss the possibility of working with us in the deployment of electric buses we have signed MoU with a key deliverable being the implementation of a PoC that would allow us finally include electric buses in our ecosystem.”
Lagos is the most populous city in sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of over 20 million people and growing. In the last decade, the population of vehicles on Lagos roads have quadrupled; with over 3,000 mass transit buses operating in the state. As the population continues to grow, with estimates of it increasing to as much as 100 million residents by 2100 so will the number of vehicles. Today Lagos contributes 44,000kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per day. These, amongst others, make it a suitable development ground for sustainable technologies that can be replicated across Africa.
In concurrence of this, the Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Lagos State, Engineer Olalere Odusote who was also at the event in his remarks said; “We had identified transportation as a major cause of pollutants and health problems in the State. For us, this initiative is another step we’re taking as a Government to ensure we clean up the environment in addition to ongoing initiatives in the energy sector.”
In recognition of the urgent need for electric vehicles to address transportation’s 62% contribution to Nigeria’s GHG emissions, the President/CEO of OCEL, Dr. Ainojie ‘Alex’ Irune commented; “This is an opportunity for us to revolutionize mobility in our country as well as build local capacity for the renewable and clean energy ecosystem. Whilst today these buses have come from across the world, in the very near future they will be produced here in Nigeria. In the very near future, we will have a multitude of locally trained engineers who are capable of operating, maintaining, and servicing these buses and other renewable energy assets. We see these buses as a first step. This PoC facilitates the collection of the first sets of data points to support the development and deployment of EV for municipal and public transport on the continent. Our ambition together with Lagos state, is to set our sights on the future and chart a path for others to follow. We have worked tirelessly to get here, and we are confident that the steps we are taking, which I must reiterate would not have been possible without the support of Lagos state, LAMATA, LBSL, Primero, and His Excellency, the Governor, who saw the vision and imperative of committing to this journey.”
In closing out the event the Commissioner of Transport, Lagos State, Dr. Frederic Oladeiende who was there representing the Governor of Lagos State Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu said, “We are here today to write the script for a new future. Today, there is abundant evidence that shows that human activities have been the main drivers of climate change primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. This situation has given rise to affirmative actions by world leaders and environmentalists to act fast to save our world. Lagos is the only state in Nigeria that has prepared and initiated the execution of a climate action plan. The plan outlines 26 efforts covering adaptation and mitigation actions to build a sustainable low carbon economy in the pursuit of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”
The roll-out of the electric buses starts with a three-month proof-of-concept phase, aimed at establishing the viability of electric vehicles for mass transportation in Lagos State, and to derive key learnings for an expanded program across the country. This will be followed by a pilot phase with an expanded fleet and bus routes, and the eventual countrywide deployment creating employment for over 30,000 Nigerians.
OCEL’s boss, Dr. Irune added that the company is committed to the success of this initiative and plans to expand its services through partnerships with leading players in the global renewable energy space “We believe that these electric vehicles have the potential to transform the transportation sector in Nigeria and provide a sustainable solution for the country’s growing population.”
To support the seamless running of the buses OCEL has invested and deployed charging stations in bus depots to ensure the buses are always fully charged. Furthermore, extensive training has been provided to the drivers on the proper use and maintenance of the buses.
This project exemplifies Oando’s commitment to supporting Nigeria in achieving her ambitious goal of becoming net-zero by 2060, and indeed Lagos State’s commitment to net-zero by 2050. Through its strategic partnership with LAMATA, the company is actively contributing to the development of a robust EV infrastructure ecosystem in Lagos State and further underscores the importance of public and private sector partnerships in achieving being a carbon neutral Nation.