Zambia must strategically place itself for economic gains once electric cars are eventually introduced onto the African continent says Dr Albert Muchanga, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry at the African Union.
Dr Muchanga was speaking in response to a question from Zambia’s Ambassador to Germany Mr. Anthony Mukwita who sought to know what Zambia could gain as a land linked country, as continents economy continues to expand with technological advancements.
This is according to a statement issued by First Secretary Press Kellys Kaunda on the side-lines of a high-level German-Africa Business day hosted by the influential German Southern Africa Business Association also known as African Verein in Berlin.
“As a copper producing country on the continent,” Dr Muchanga said, “Zambia could gain a lot by upping its game as electric cars eventually reach Africa. Zambia could be a hub and its economy could grow and jobs would be created.”
The conference dubbed ‘German Africa Business Day, Engaging in Smart Africa’ has drawn high-level participants from the diplomatic corps and business leaders from around the world.
“The idea is to plan for the future today and see how German and Africa could further business in the future and I think Commissioner Muchanga’s bait must be closely followed by economic think tanks back in our country Zambia.
Commissioner Muchanga is one of the few top exports of Zambia to the Africa Union, having worked previously as a diplomat in the United Kingdom and other countries.
Latest reports on the electric car front state that, increasingly as more and more companies and governments move to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, electric car ranges will increase.
Evidence say there will be need to expand the battery life and output of these cars in order to both contend with and surpass gas-powered vehicles.
Reports state that leading vehicle manufacturing nations in Europe have decided to forego diesel and petrol engines for electric ones.
This will be the single biggest technological leap since the introduction of the internal combustion engine by Nikolaus Otto in 1876 according to the same report.
Here in German and France for instance governments have voted to ban diesel and petrol-powered vehicles in 10 years according to one report.
To ensure this happens, Germany is offering subsidies valued at €1.2 billion to manufacturers on a first-come-first served basis.
In Norway, Consumers will receive a subsidy of €4,000 (Sh500,000) when buying an electric vehicle until 2020 Paris aims to outlaw diesel cars from the city starting from 2024.
While the sale of electric cars is still low, this is expected to change rapidly over the next decade.
Some countries like Norway have done extremely well with 32.5 per cent of cars on the road being either Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) or Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).
In December 2017, Norwegians put 42 per cent of the country’s electric vehicles on the road, thanks to charging infrastructure and tax incentives.
They intend to phase petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025.
The growing number of electric vehicles hitting roads is set to fuel a nine-fold increase in copper demand from the sector over the coming decade, according to an industry report on Tuesday.
Electric or hybrid cars and buses are expected to reach 27 million by 2027 globally, up from 3 million this year, according to a report by consultancy IDTechEx, commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA).
“Demand for electric vehicles is forecast to increase significantly over the next ten years as technology improves, the price gap with petrol cars is closed and more electric chargers are deployed,” IDTechEx Senior Technology Analyst Franco Gonzalez said in the report.
Good news for copper countries
“Our research predicts this increase will raise copper demand for electric cars and buses from 185,000 tonnes in 2017 to 1.74 million tonnes in 2027,” Gonzalez said.
Zambia could gain from this surge once value addition is executed according to Ambassador Mukwita.
Electric vehicles use a substantial amount of copper in their batteries and in the windings and copper rotors used in electric motors. A single car can have up to six kilometers of copper wiring, according to the ICA.
The global market for copper is around 23.9 million tonnes, according to the International Copper Study Group.
That suggests electric vehicles could account for about 6 percent of global copper demand in ten years, according to analyst estimates, rising from less than 1 percent this year.
Ambassador Mukwita said although hybrids may appear like a pipe dream when spoken to some Africans, “it is better to dream big than think small if we are to develop as a copper nation, even as diversification is discussed.
The conference will be closed at a dinner hosted in honour of the diplomats and business leaders at Ellington Hotel in the heart of Berlin tonight.
Caption: Dr Albert Muchanga shares a moment with Ambassador Anthony Mukwita and a German businessman.
ISSUED BY KELLYS KAUNDA FIRST SECRETARY PRESS EMBASSY OF ZAMBIA IN BERLIN.