In simple layman’s language an electric car refers to an automobile that is boosted by one or more electric motors, using electrical energy stored in the rechargeable batteries.
The first practical electric cars were produced in the 1880s. They were popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engines, electric starters in particular, and mass production of cheaper gasoline vehicles led to a decline in the use of electric drive vehicles.
In 1987, electric cars found their first commercial use in the USA. New York City taxis were electric, and they were manufactured by the Philadelphia Electric Carriage and Wagon Company.
During the 20th century, the main manufacturers of electric vehicles in the US were Anthony Electric, Baker, Columbia, Anderson, Edison, Riker, Milburn, and others. Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, the electric ones were quieter and did not require gear changes.
It was in July, 2017, the year we are still living, that the Rwanda Environment Management Authority said that the plan by the German car maker ‘Volkswagen’ to assemble electric cars as part of the environmentally friendly model vehicles is timely since different studies have revealed that vehicles emissions have major contribution to air pollution in Rwanda especially in Kigali city.
According to Rwanda Development Board, the car manufacturer already completed a feasibility study to assemble cars with low fuel consumption and gas emissions in Rwanda, including electric cars. It will introduce high capacity transport buses and basic works to set up an assembly plant producing at least 5,000 vehicles per year could start before the end of this year, 2017.
Still the CEO of RDB (Rwanda Development Bank) Clare Akamanzi also went ahead to announced the move during the meeting with directors of commercial companies in Rwanda with the aim to create a platform for sharing ideas of shaping investment development.
Remy Duhuze, the Director of Environmental Regulation and Pollution Control at Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) went ahead to let Sunday Times (a news paper in Rwanda) know that the move could help boost green transport in the country or even the entire region of East Africa considering that vehicles emissions highly contribute to air pollution. This proposal is a very good step forward towards reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases emissions.
It is also on record that a study that was conducted by REMA in 2011 indicated that vehicles have an important contribution to air pollution in Rwanda especially in Kigali city.
The Authority met with the investors after which they signed an agreement with the government last year but at that time there was no idea of electric cars and seeing they are moving to electric cars it is a further step in sustainability. We have to collaborate on this new development”.
The Minister for Natural resources, Vincent Biruta told Sunday Times that one part of Kigali city in Gasabo district could be transformed into model green city for green cities where electric cars (vehicles use rechargeable batteries) instead of using oil to concept the green transport ideology.
The city also plans to ease traffic congestion by introducing high capacity buses that will transport large volumes of passengers to reduce air pollution by limiting use of cars in the city.
Vehicle emissions in Kigali
According to Duhuze, the benefits of electric cars must be considered by looking at the 2011 study by REMA titled ‘Air pollution in Rwanda with reference to Kigali city and vehicular emissions’.
The study report indicates that air pollution is widespread in Kigali where vehicles are the major contributors and are of particular concern since these are ground level with maximum impact on the general population.
It shows that a greenhouse gas emissions inventory developed indicated that the majority of emissions were Carbon dioxide dominated by transport with 52% of car emissions.
The study highlights that Rwanda’s transport sector is entirely dependent on imported fuel and consumes approximately 75% of all the country’s imported petroleum products.
Rwanda Vision 2020 estimates that petroleum product consumption will increase by over 10% per year and will therefore be an increasing source of emissions, it elaborates.
“The main driver for the growth of carbon dioxide emissions is increased petrol and diesel. Low carbon options would therefore have benefits in reducing the potential future problem of air quality especially in Kigali City,” reads the report.
It recommends to promote the use of renewable energy sources as fuel, put in place an efficient and convenient public transport system within Kigali City, introducing buses with higher capacity such as the long buses or articulated buses, to create a conducive for green transport (walking and cycling ) where is possible.
It further recommends introducing a subsidy to encourage the use of eco-cars, specifications of fuels to be used in Rwanda, pilot Green Transport Fund to encourage the introduction of innovative transport technology among others.
From the 2011 study by REMA, I do think every other African nation needs to buy the electric car concept if only we are to achieve not only the 2015 - 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but also the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. What is your take on this? Could it be a one way to go for the rest of Africa? Nonetheless the rest of the world?
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Jerry Rawlings Mbabali Rosine ZADI Kouamé Serge KOUAKOU laurence Ullmann The specified item was not found. Charlette N'Guessan Désirée N'Guessan DIOMANDE SOUALIHO David Aurelie KOUASSI OBSERVATOIRE DES MOBILITES AFRICAINES