Nigerian entrepreneur builds electric mini-buses as part of clean energy push

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, May 16 (Reuters) – Nigerian entrepreneur Mustapha Gajibo has converted gas-powered mini-buses into electric vehicles in his workshop, but he is now going a step further by building solar-powered buses from scratch in the purpose of promoting clean energy and reducing pollution.

Africa’s top crude oil producer and exporter has heavily subsidized gasoline and an unequal supply of electricity – 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 northeast Nigeria, is fearless. He says rising global oil prices and pollution are making electric vehicles an attractive alternative in Nigeria.

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In his workshop, he has already dismantled the combustion engines of 10 mini-buses, powering them with solar batteries. The buses, which have been running 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 will be 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 a single charge,” Gajibo said.

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

In Nigeria, as in most of Africa, electric vehicles have yet to gain popularity as they are more expensive and there is little electricity and no infrastructure to charge vehicles.

For now, Gajibo has a charging station powered by solar energy.

There are other hurdles like foreign currency shortages that make it difficult to import coins. He therefore seeks to obtain them in Nigeria.

“We replaced some materials with local materials to reduce our costs and maximize our 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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