Interview: UNECA expects more Chinese, other foreign investments in developing Africa's EV industry-Xinhua


Interview: UNECA expects more Chinese, other foreign investments in developing Africa's EV industry

Source: Xinhua| 2024-04-27 15:43:15|Editor: huaxia

by Gretinah Machingura

HARARE, April 27 (Xinhua) -- China and other foreign investors are welcome to partner with local companies to develop Africa's budding electric vehicle (EV) industry, a senior official from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said.

Although there is some distance to go for Africa in terms of EV productive capacity and supportive ecosystem, Africa has begun exploring opportunities and taking significant steps in this regard, leveraging its vast green mineral resources that are key inputs into EVs, Eunice Kamwendo, director of the UNECA Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa, told Xinhua in an interview Thursday.

"The joint Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)-Zambia Batteries for Electric Vehicles Initiative is a case in point which seeks to build productive capacities for EV manufacturing in the two countries starting with production of sulphates and precursors for lithium-ion batteries for EVs," Kamwendo said in her e-mailed response to Xinhua from Zambia where UNECA Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa is located.

She said that in the medium term, Africa is focused on building its own capacity to manufacture EVs, and with the correct industrial model and governance frameworks on the horizon, there should be good opportunities for international investors, including China, to partner with local companies to produce electric batteries and vehicles.

"This seems to be the case with the DRC-Zambia Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and many others in the pipeline. Chinese or any other international industrial expertise will certainly be of great value to Africa's budding EV industry," Kamwendo said.

Kamwendo has lately called on African countries to harness the opportunities presented in recent developments in the global battery and EV industry.

She made the request at a recent UNECA technical review meeting on the implementation of the cross-border special economic zone for the battery and EV industry planned in the DRC and Zambia, with the support of the UNECA and the African Export-Import Bank.

At the review meeting, she emphasized the benefits of the battery and EV initiative in the two countries, saying the planned joint SEZ will promote manufacturing agglomeration in the two countries and across the continent, while also bridging the technological gap in the sector.

She said the surge in demand for rechargeable batteries, driven by smartphone use and the need to store renewable energy, represents a huge opportunity for the African continent to drive development based on clean energy transition.

Kamwendo described demand for EVs in Africa as low but growing.

"Insignificant at the moment but growing and will no doubt be accelerated by the push for the global energy transition," she said.

She said as part of the equation, Africa must navigate how to accelerate investments in the industry.

Kamwendo said the joint DRC-Zambia Batteries for Electric Vehicles Initiative has drawn huge interest from the rest of the continent, especially from countries with substantial mineral deposits of lithium, manganese, cobalt, nickel and graphite, such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar and Botswana.

"A revolution is certainly on the way. Small, but important steps to build an African EV industry," she said.