The interest in sustainable and renewable energy continues to rise. The scourge of climate change is apparent and efforts are being concerted in addressing the issue. That is why electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming a major focus. The leading global brand in this space is Tesla Motors. They are bent on accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy via the use of EVs and solar, amongst others. Tesla Motors have to date sold close to 2 million EVs – the first company to do so. There is no question about how EVs are the future. That is why it is an interesting development that ZUVA has decided to roll out EV charging stations in Zimbabwe.

ZUVA Rolls Out EV Charging Stations

ZUVA, on the 5th of May 2022, issued the following official communique:

In line with their Sustainability Strategy, ZUVA has partnered with the Local Electric Car Manufacturer EVCA – Electric Vehicle Centre Africa, also known as BYD Zimbabwe, for the development and implementation of the first-ever Electric Vehicle charging network available for public use in Zimbabwe.

The project will start with a prototype charger that is to be installed in Harare at ZUVA Borrowdale and subsequently, electric vehicle charging stations will be installed at ZUVA service stations within cities around the country and along major highways.

ZUVA management has indicated that Electric Vehicles are the future and Electric Vehicle adoption in Zimbabwe has been positive with several organizations and private individuals placing orders for EVs. One major area of concern that affects Electric Vehicle adoption in any place or country anywhere in the world is the availability of the supporting charging infrastructure and that is one area that ZUVA and EVCA would like to address.

The project will kick off with the installation of a 60kw DC CCS Type 2 charger which is a super-fast charger capable of charging the BYD T3 (300km range) and BYD E6 (500km range in less than 1.5 hours. That is to say with the BYD E6 and BYD T3, after a single charge of 1 hour 30 minutes, one can get a driving range of 500 km and 300km respectively. The CCS2 charger is compatible with all BYD Electric Vehicles and BYD Electric buses and is also compatible with European EVs. Other electric vehicles compatible with the charge will be able to charge to full capacity in less than an hour. In addition to being powered by mains supply, the chargers can also be powered by solar energy thereby being also environmentally friendly.

ZUVA is very much encouraged by the Electric Vehicle Policy Framework set to be released this year by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development which is expected to accelerate the adoption of E-Mobility solutions in Zimbabwe. ZUVA and EVCA as industry leaders in their respective fields have taken the bold initiative to implement such a project.

Why EV Charging Stations Matter

One of the biggest hurdles across the world is inadequate EV charging stations. This has been noted as a big issue in many countries. This is part of the reason why most people are hesitant to purchase electric vehicles. You must appreciate the dynamics of EVs. Let us suppose the range of an EV after a full charge is 300 kilometres. Consider the example of a journey from Beitbridge to Harare which is roughly 600 kilometres. The EV cannot get to Harare on a full charge. Thus, if there are no EV charging stations along the way that becomes a problem.

The ideal scenario is to have as many well-distributed EV charging stations as possible. The Netherlands prides itself in having the most well distributed and concentrated EV charging stations in the world. In the Netherlands, you can find as many as 20 EV charging stations per 100 kilometres. Overall, it is clear that EV charging stations are crucial in driving EV adoption.

Do We Need This Now In Zimbabwe?

There have been debates around whether or not this is needed right now in Zimbabwe. Some feel that this is an example of misplaced priorities. In a way that can be true especially when you look at certain variables. Look at where they are commencing the EV charging stations rollout – Borrowdale. That in itself speaks volumes about how most Zimbabweans cannot afford EVs. For example, the BYD T3 costs over US$30 000. This is even though they are being made locally.

It begins to make sense why Borrowdale was chosen. There are very few EVs in Zimbabwe and even fewer are owned by private citizens. You also factor in the cost of paying for electricity and of course its availability. All these factors make the whole EVs initiative feel like an elitist one.  Sure enough, we need to adopt EVs in Zimbabwe; after all, that is the future. However, the timing is somewhat off; there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed first.

It is commendable to see efforts toward EVs adoption in Zimbabwe. The long term benefits are there and cannot be contested. The only problem right now is that Zimbabwe still has a long way to go in making EVs mainstream. Let me know what you think; let us continue the discussion in the comments section.