The unveiling of Tesla’s model 3 as an affordably priced middle-class electric vehicle (EV) is heralding a dawn of a new era. In recent weeks, both France and the UK have committed to phasing out petrol cars fully for new car purchases by 2040. Moreover, a study from Cambridge Econometrics and partners on oil market futures estimated that climate action, like better improved fuel efficiency standards and measures to facilitate the spread of EV’s, may reduce oil demand by around 11 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2030 and by 60 mbpd in 2050.

African countries need to jump on the climate band wagon and embrace electric vehicles or fall behind. Although Sub-Saharan Africa may lack the right infrastructure to embrace this technology, African countries can stimulate industrial development in the value chain process of producing electric vehicles and attract potential investors in the manufacturing of electric vehicles. Ghana for instance is exploring possibilities of mining lithium ion, one of the key elements needed to manufacture rechargeable batteries required for electric vehicle production. IronRidge Resources Limited, the company spear heading the exploration process has just announced that ongoing trenching and mapping at the Barari license, Ewoyaa and Abunko projects continues to intersect wide spodumene dominant lithium pegmatites within the Cape Coast Lithium Project area and a maiden drilling programme is expected to kick off during late 2017. Also, the batteries they use rely on cobalt, which is overwhelmingly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Proper regulations and transparency is needed to force accountability throughout the supply chain to prevent issues of conflict, corruption and environmental degradation.

The Petrodollar system has controlled the world for decades and has been the source of global conflict. The rivalry between the dollar and the euro for the position of world reserve currency, has been a privileged status that has been held by the dollar since the Bretton Woods agreement nearly 60 years ago. The Petrodollar system has been a disaster for third world countries. Under this system and evident during the Energy Crisis in the early 1970s, prices of exports fell significantly and money meant for industrial and agricultural development had to be diverted to pay for oil. If exports did not cover the cost of imported oil, then these countries will have to source for loans from banks with enough dollar denominated assets like the IMF and other big banks who then become policemen for enforcing the investor-focused policies of Washington and Wall Street. This has been the narrative in Africa causing over-reliance and the need of aid from Western partners.

Given the pivotal importance of an electric powered world in reshaping the global economy, the international community and Sub-Saharan Africa need to actively engage in identifying and implementing diversification policies. Electric powered Africa will serve as a blue print for sustainable economic development and hence must be fully embraced. Kudos to Tesla and Elon Musk for his exemplary vision to reshape the world as we know it.


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