Maiduguri’s electric car manufacture story again recaps the true essence of technology as less of machine, but more of creative solutions to human problems.
This case was the tri-story of Lawan Muhammad, a Maiduguri bus driver; Mustapha Abubakar Gajibo, a local engineer and founder of the local firm, Phoenix Technology, that provided engineering solutions to Muhammad’s headache of soaring fuel costs; and Jilani Aliyu, director-general of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), the government agency that gave Gajibo’s firm institutional support.
Aliyu declared the policy thrust behind his agency’s support for Gajibo’s Phoenix Technology and its electric car manufacturing and re-fit ventures.
“We all know that each time you buy a vehicle from overseas, you are supporting jobs and exporting jobs out of Nigeria,” he told Adesuwa Egbon, on her ‘Africa Matters’ programme, on the TRT World network, anchored from Maiduguri, Borno State. “But if you buy local vehicles, you support jobs in Nigeria. These vehicles are very clean,” he added, “they have no emissions.”
But this particular pitch was not just for made-in-Nigeria cars. It was more for green-friendly electric cars, away from ones powered by fossil fuels, which costs are not only on the rise but which carbon emissions also blight the environment. That has forced a crisis in global warming; and called for a drastic transition from the conventional petrol/diesel-powered engines to electric-powered ones, with zero-carbon emissions.
But the added appeal of the Maiduguri electric cars came with how it instantly boosted the bottom-line of the local shuttle service; aside from making saner the environment.
Adesuwa Egbon hit at the utility motif, as she told the Muhammad shuttle story and headache, in her short 02:21-minute video clip: “Lawan Muhammad has been a bus driver for more than 10 years in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria. But as the cost of fuel has gone up, his profits have dropped,” her story opened. ”He needs to fend for himself and his family so he found a way to fix the problem.”
By Phoenix Technology’s electric car solutions, in Ms Egbon’s words: “He now drives more affordable buses produced by local engineer, Mustapha Gajibo.”
Muhammad himself weighed in, on how the electric cars have lowered cost, driven up patronage and improved business bottom-line: “These electric cars have helped us solve so many problems, especially when it comes to buying fuel,” he said. “Now we drive for 120 kms every day at one full charge; and the charging doesn’t last for more than 35 minutes.”
Now the sprightly bottom-line: “Due to its low cost, we also ask passengers to pay less compared to other buses. Most passengers prefer to use our cars because it’s cheap.”
Inasmuch as that is a business boon, electric cars also offer an environmental boom as Adesuwa would explain in her presentation: “Electric cars like these offer a cleaner alternative to vehicles run on petrol. They reduce carbon emissions and provide cheaper transportation, making Gajibo’s project a much-needed innovation.”
Phoenix Technology also has the capacity to convert petrol-powered vehicles into electric cars, aside from making own eco-friendly cars from scratch. Gajibo also explained how his firm had provided a two-way charging solution for the electric vehicles his company manufactures; or its re-fits from petrol to electricity: either the normal grid at home; or from solar panels.
“That,” Adesuwa intoned, was “good for drivers like Muhammad, for their passengers, for the environment and for us all”, sounding every byte, as if the future of a full green economy, was already here in war-scarred Maiduguri, despite Boko Haram’s havoc!
The Maiduguri angle to the Gajibo innovations is indeed a sweet riposte to the evil Islamists that claim western education is a curse; and thereafter launched a terror campaign, consuming hundreds of innocent lives. Gajibo, with his firm, is proving every breath of that a ringing fallacy, as no education, local or foreign, is a curse.
NADDC too has earned due praise for supporting this electric car project, among others. But it should also do more to spot and give institutional backing to similar talents and innovative projects, spread all over the country. That is the only path to deepening the real sector and diversifying the Nigerian economy.