Green transportation is one of the top ways to reduce carbon emissions, as environmental impacts are not limited to just planting trees.
Before 2021, Peter Ofoma, a student at the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, had to queue at the park for tricycles or walk long distances to his lecture halls, but his story changed with the introduction of low-cost carbon-free electric scooters on campus.
The scooters were introduced to aid mobility and further enhance human productivity, thereby saving him time, energy, and most importantly, money.
Two years later, Mr Ofoma remains grateful for the ability to commute freely and at a less expense on campus, following the heightened dilemma in the cost of living in the country as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy, which has now necessitated a surge in the transportation fare of tricycles on campus as against that of the e-scooters that have remained constant.
“It was much cheaper by a lot, especially now that fuel price has increased the fares,” Mr Ofoma, now a campus ambassador for Trekk Scooters said. “Keke (tricycles) prices are now N200. With Trekk Scooters, it ranges from N30 to N50. A student would on average commute to and fro, and in one week, Keke users spend N2,000. But Trekk users use N500,” he added.
In Nigeria’s commercial hub and metropolitan city, Lagos, pollution is a significant problem. A highly congested population and a high concentration of motor vehicles and industries exist.Lagos has one of the worst traffic gridlocks in the world, as commuters spend hours on the road, losing a significant part of their productive time before arriving at their destinations. The growing congestion threatens economic viability and aggravates air pollution and energy consumption.
According to the World Bank, air pollution in 2020 in Lagos was responsible for over 30,000 premature deaths, and more than half were infants less than one-year-old.
Green transportation is one of the top ways to reduce carbon emissions, as environmental impacts are not limited to just planting trees. With the emergence and adaptation of e-mobilities in Nigeria, environmental challenges, specifically air pollution, can be reduced.
Another user, Blessing Duran, a student of Redeemer’s University from the Philippines, says riding the scooters to classes daily has been really good and helpful, as she can just “ride away to class” with the provided protective gear intact and speed under check.
Except for the minor initial difficulty in using the scooter, which the Trekk Scooter team helped overcome with thorough instructions and assistance, Mr Ofoma said he is eager to raise awareness of the advantages of using these scooters because they not only lessen traffic congestion on campus but are also a sustainable mode of transportation.”Trekk scooters play a significant role in reducing my contribution to air pollution in Nigeria. Since they are electric scooters, they produce zero emissions during operation. By choosing to ride a Trekk Scooter instead of using conventional modes of transportation, I am actively reducing my carbon footprint and promoting a cleaner environment,” he added.
Transport sector contribution to carbon emission
Nigeria’s transport sector accounts for 24 per cent of inscope emissions, according to the country’s energy transition plan (ETP). From 1971 to 2014, the sector’s average yearly contribution to the country’s total CO2 emissions from fuel combustion was 48 per cent.
In 2018, there were about 11.8 million vehicles in Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The number was projected to increase to 13 million by 2021. This was made up of commercial (57.70%), private (40.98%), and government and diplomatic (1.32%) vehicles.
Based on the World Bank’s analysis, the average person in Nigeria emits less than 0.7 metric tons of CO2. The transport sector contributes to carbon emission by using petroleum-based products like PMS, AGO and ATK; relatively small amounts of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are emitted during fuel combustion.
The ETP aims to lower transportation emissions and achieve 10 per cent biofuel blends by 2030 and 100 per cent electric vehicles by 2060. Experts have noted that green transportation can help Nigeria achieve its decarbonisation goal, as contained in the ETP.
Innovative solution redefining green transportation
To redefine green transportation in Africa, Trekk Scooter is a leading e-scooter-sharing platform on track to drive micro-mobility in close communities, such as university campuses, industrial estates, and residential estates.
Using renewable energy and technology, Trekk Scooter intends to lower carbon emissions in these areas while raising living standards and offering residents access to inexpensive transportation.Four young Africans, three from Nigeria and one from Ivory Coast, founded the company in 2021 after learning about mobility in the Western world and seeing how easy, inexpensive, and innovative it was there. They then decided to replicate that in Nigeria and ensure people had access to simple, easy, eco-friendly, and sustainable means of transportation.
Esther Ehindero, Trekk Scooter’s Chief Operating Officer, said the founders’ quest and passion were born from making a difference in the mobility sector back home.
“The future is electric, or at most, we can say the future is hybrid; everyone is moving away from carbon-based emission vehicles for transportation. So we needed to redefine mobility, starting with micro-mobility, and the best way to start was with e-scooters.”
Since Trekk Scooter’s introduction, they have conducted a number of pilots; the first was at Pan-Atlantic University in 2021, where they recorded many rides and adoptions. Redeemer’s University was the next location.
“Over 21,000 rides have been recorded so far, and there have been over 2,000 app downloads. Almost 30,000 trips have been taken since the most recent debut at Lagos State University. Thus, the initial pilot allowed the corporation to replace almost 21,000 tricycles and buses, preventing about 3,650 kg of carbon emissions in these locations.
“We hope to do much more with more scooters deployed in other communities. We have a lot of universities in the pipeline that we will be deploying soon. For some of them, we’ve signed MOUs, and we’re in the process of signing MOUs. The plan is to redefine every close African community, starting with Nigeria, one community at a time. So definitely, we have plans to unlock two communities at least monthly, so that will give us at least 24 or 25 communities annually.”
Other green transportation initiative
During Premium Times’ visit to Soilless Farm Lab, all fossil fuel vehicles were parked near the farms. When questioned, the CEO, Samson Ogbole, gave a response in consideration of the ecosystem.
“We do not want to release carbon monoxide around the plants during harvest, which could be destructive, hence the purchase of electric cargo bicycles which are eco-friendly,” he said.
Mr Ogbole said that they want to move and produce easily around the farm, and at the same time, they want to discourage the use of trucks and vans within the premises.He recounted that he had only two options: buying the bicycle from Thinkbikes or a Tesla. “But why buy a Tesla if there’s a Nigerian doing something in that line?” he retorted.
Thinkbikes is another enterprise working to curtail carbon emissions in Nigeria. The company launched an electrically assisted solution in the form of electric cargo bikes to provide riders with the option of either throttling or peddling to eliminate pressure on peddlers’ legs while encouraging a transition to green mobility options.
Tolulope Olukokun, the company’s founder, first attempted to redefine transportation through e-mobility in 2012 when he converted a petrol vehicle to an electric one.
However, due to the high cost of maintenance and the realisation that affordability drives the market, he switched to electric cargo bikes in 2019 after converting his exercise bicycle to an electric one.
Challenges in adoption
Interestingly, both innovations acknowledge that obtaining finance is a major problem. They need access to the necessary monetary support needed to upscale their ventures and purchase the required materials for production.
Mr Olukokun made a case for the lack of knowledgeable and experienced personnel in the field and the inconsistent power supply, which is proving to strangle their efforts.
Need to push for national electric vehicle adoption
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and energy expert, Tobi Oluwatola, commented on Nigeria’s transportation state as being below par.
Mr Oluwatola said, “Nigeria ranks 110 out of 190 countries in the Logistics Performance Index, according to the U.S. Trade Administration. According to Mustard Insights, Nigeria ranks 6th in public transport satisfaction in Africa, behind Mauritius, South Africa, Egypt, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The city of Lagos often tops the list for traffic congestion globally.
“In recent times, Lagos State has done some work on electric BRT buses. There, however, needs to be a national push for EV charging stations, as weak transportation and logistics systems affect Nigerian businesses and complicate the ease of doing business. Human productivity is also grossly impaired by time spent driving and in traffic.”
In the form of support needed by these innovators to scale up their enterprise, Mr Oluwatola believes that providing loan facilities, subsidies, or tax incentives for capital expenditure to companies to have them installed in malls, offices, and existing filling stations by the government is necessary.
“The government also has to coordinate quality and electrical standards to ensure compatibility. It should also move to attract investment in EV manufacturing domestically. A solar-powered charging infrastructure spread across the country would be helpful,” he said.
This report is produced in fulfilment of the UNESCO & CIJ London Climate Change in News Media project, facilitated by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development.