5 Jun 23

How to make Africa an EV leader? The magic word is collaboration

Africa has the minerals, the manpower and the mass markets to become a leader in EV and EV battery manufacturing. But only if the various countries now trying to go it alone learn to collaborate across borders, argues a recent article in Quartz magazine. 

EV manufacturing initiatives are springing up right across Africa – most recently in Morocco, as we reported earlier, but previously also in South Africa and elsewhere. Mineral-rich countries like the DR Congo, Zambia and Mozambique, for their part, are positioning themselves to become EV battery supply and/or production hubs.  

Crucial lynchpin

Most initiatives are strictly country-based; but the global automotive industry typically thrives on value chains that cross borders. Across Africa, this awareness is now growing. The mining industry could prove the crucial lynchpin for such a regional approach, as Africa is especially rich in the minerals that go into EV batteries. 

According to the USGS, Africa hosts major reserves of cobalt (52.4% of the world’s total), manganese (46%), bauxite (24.7%), graphite (21.2%) and vanadium (16%). The DR Congo alone hosts about 70% of the world’s cobalt production and over 51% of global reserves. South Africa, for its part, has more than 70% of the world’s manganese reserves. Namibia hosts up to 40% of the world’s manganese reserves. 

Policy framework

What’s needed, is a policy framework that facilitates the creation of regional and continental automotive value chain, from mining the minerals to manufacturing the EVs, for example within the framework of the AfCFTA, the African Continental Free Trade Area, established in 2018 and spanning most of the continent.

South Africa and Morocco, who both already have a thriving automotive manufacturing industry, could play a pioneering role. The benefits could be huge. Withing existing parameters, Africa’s EV market is expected to grow from just under $12 billion in 2021 to almost $21.5 billion in 2027. With orchestrated efforts to integrate the continent’s mining and manufacturing capacity, that figure could increase exponentially. 

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs