A Nigerian entrepreneur is building electric minibuses as part of a clean energy push


MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, May 16 (Reuters) – Nigerian entrepreneur Mustapha Gajibo has converted petrol-powered minibuses into electric vehicles at his workshop, but he’s now going a step further to build solar-battery-powered buses from scratch to promote clean energy and pollution control.

Africa’s largest producer and exporter of crude oil has heavily subsidized gasoline and a patchy electricity supply – a combination that could discourage anyone from investing in electric vehicles.

But Gajibo, a 30-year-old college dropout and resident of the city of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, is undaunted. He says rising global oil prices and pollution are making electric vehicles a viable alternative in Nigeria.

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In his workshop he has already removed combustion engines from 10 minibuses and powered them with solar batteries. The buses, which have been in operation for just over a month, cover a distance of 100 km on a single charge, he said.

His most ambitious project is to build the buses from scratch. They are equipped with solar panels and batteries.

“As I speak to you in our workshop, we are building a 12-seater bus that can travel up to 200 kilometers on one charge,” Gajibo said.

“Before the end of this month we will unveil this bus, which will be the first of its kind in all of Nigeria,” he said, adding that his workshop has the capacity to produce 15 buses per month.

In Nigeria, like most parts of Africa, electric vehicles have not yet caught on because they are more expensive and there is little electricity and infrastructure to charge vehicles.

Currently Gajibo has a solar powered charging station.

There are other hurdles such as a shortage of foreign exchange that make it difficult to import parts. So he tries to source them in Nigeria.

“We replaced some materials with local materials to reduce our costs and maximize profits,” Gajibo said.

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Additional reporting by Abraham Archiga in Abuja, writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe, editing by Christina Fincher

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