3 Nov 20

World Bank sees EV future for Middle East

Across the Middle East, Covid-19 lockdowns have proven that air pollution does not have to be a ‘given’. As such, the pandemic may be a catalyst (if that’s the appropriate word) for the electrification of mobility across the region, the World Bank hopes.

Your typical Middle Eastern metropolis is choking on air pollution – not just due to the dense traffic, but also the climatic conditions: high temperatures, low precipitation and frequent dust storms. But thanks to the stay-at-home orders issued at the start of the pandemic, local officials and citizens experienced a significant increase in air quality, realising that things could be different.  

Beneficial effect
In particular, the beneficial effect of the lockdown has increased the interest across the region for electric mobility. As public opinion in the Middle East increasingly realises, reducing toxic emissions from combustion engines will help improve general health conditions, and in the long run, save millions of lives. In a region so used to producing, using (and frankly, wasting) oil in large quantities, that is an important shift. 

But if the Middle East is to get serious about EVs, it has some catching up to do. China, various European countries and segments of the U.S. are well ahead in establishing an ecosystem that will permit electric mobility to flourish. 

Cairo Project
The World Bank is determined to help the Middle East experience the benefits of e-mobility for itself. In Egypt, the global institute is piloting a project to develop an electric bus fleet and related infrastructure. Called the Greater Cairo Air Pollution Management and Climate Change Project, it could be the first step in weaning the Middle East off petroleum as the obvious source for its transportation needs. 

And in fact, the World Bank is already examining ways to scale up the implementation of e-mobility across not just Egypt, but also Morocco and Jordan. Considering how little has been done in this respect across the region, the Middle East could be the place where e-mobility can progress the fastest worldwide over the next few years. 

 Image (Shutterstock): Traffic jam and air pollution in Cairo.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs