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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF AUTOMOBILE SYSTEM IN NIGERIA

Keynote Address by Engr. Dr. Funmilayo Waheed Adekojo, MD/CEO Funmi Ayinke Nigeria Limited Delivered at the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Akure Branch, 2023 Chief Executive Officer Lecture

Your Excellency,
Legal Luminary,
Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON

The Executive Governor of Ondo State
Your Excellency,
Engr. Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari-Wudil, FNSE

President, The Nigerian Society of Engineers
Your Excellency
Engr. Felix Atume, FNSE, FAEng, mni

Distinguished Former Executive Secretary, NSE
Our Host
Engr. Raimi O. Aminu, FNSE

Honourable Commissioner for Works, Land & Infrastructure, Ondo state
Mr. Chairman, NSE Akure,
Engineer Stephen Olugbenga Bolawole, MNSE

The Entire members of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Akure
Distinguished fellows, guests, ladies and gentlemen

All protocols duly observed.

Introduction
I am incredibly honoured to have been asked to speak to this sterling dignitaries and reputable society of professionals. As one of you, I am humbled to have been accorded the privilege to deliver this address. Thank you all. Let me also say that the timing of this conference and the theme adopted by the organisers is apt, given the on-going global automobile evolution to combat global warming and climate change.

Automobile in Nigeria

A conventional definition of automobile, that I love so much, is a vehicle that is not controlled by humans but controlled by humans. This simply means automobiles are self-propelled vehicles that have with power source for their propulsion, yet dependent on the handling of man. However, recent innovations in the automobile industry in which AI-dependent autonomous cars have evolved defy this conventional auto definition. A couple of these self-driving cars have been sighted in some parts of Nigeria. The point is that the automobile world is changing drastically and Nigeria is striving to keep up.

The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) as a body has over the years been an advocate and enforcer of working systems, professionals and environment. Our role in Nigeria and across the world has helped save lives; improve the lives of our people and the quality of engineering practices across the globe.

We have learnt over time that the automobile industry is a key driver of economic growth and development in any country. Road travel accounts for 80% of all journeys in Nigeria, according to the travel website, expat.com. This sector provides employment opportunities to many, generates revenue for the government, and contributes to the overall well-being of society. Therefore, it is important that we ensure its growth is sustainable and does not come at the expense of our environment.

From the Ford Model T, the first car to be mass-produced on an assembly line, to the
Volkswagen Beetle down to the recent Electric Car Revolution, all we have sought to do as mankind is to look for more environmentally friendly options. This latest aspiration has birthed engineering innovations such as Tesla Model S, BMW i8, Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion (a self-driving concept car), Nissan Leaf, and Audi A7 Sportback etc.

The National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) revealed the first locally produced electric automobile in February 2021 in partnership with the Stallion Group, with the aim of having 30% of the nation’s passenger cars run on electricity by the year 2025, according to the NADDC director. Your guess is as good as mine on whether this is attainable by 2025.

Another notable change that occurred recently is the Nigerians’ loss of interest in imported vehicles. Although according to a clause in Nigeria’s Finance Bill for 2021 to drive down import duties on foreign vehicles from 35% to 5%, recent reports showed that it has otherwise risen to as high as 40%. According to the Punch Newspaper, “this has led to about 70% drop in the sale of second hand imported cars”. That is a huge variance from Nigeria we used to know as these cars have been the most preferred choice of several car users. So as engineers, the need to develop a homegrown sustainable automobile industry is more pressing than ever to cushion the
effect of this sudden switch by our people.

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The recent collapse of many of our assembly lines in Nigeria has further impeded our developmental stride. According to the International Trade Administration, only 6 assembly plants remain operational out of the 28 assembly plants set up by the 54 licensed auto assembly lines. To make matters worse, they are manufacturing at a very low output because of infrastructure deficits, incapacities, and FX issues.
Our Effort towards Sustainability Sustainability of the automobile industry in Nigeria requires that the industry be able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This includes reducing the environmental impact of cars and promoting sustainable
manufacturing practices.

Dr Conelius Agbo in his paper, “Nigeria’s automotive policy and the quest for a viable
automotive industry: a lesson for the developing economies” noted that Nigeria’s automotive regulations are not self-sustaining because it is a footloose. He opined that the strategy on import
substitution and local content development did not include the essential parts such as batteries, belts, lights, and tires in car manufacture. In the same vein, The International Trade Administration noted that spare parts capacity building is one of the keys to the success of Nigeria’s auto industry.

Over the years as a nation, we have made significant progress in the development of our
automobile industry. The National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) have been at the forefront of this effort, working tirelessly to design and implement policies,
programmes and strategies for an effective, competitive and diversified private sector. According to NADDC, as of January 2020, the nation had received $1 billion (381.1 billion) in investment over the previous 12 months. This is in sharp deviation from about $8 billion Nigerians spend annually on imported vehicles.

Challenges Facing Automobile Development in Nigeria
Undoubtedly, there are many challenges facing the sustainable development of the automobile industry in Nigeria. However, there are also many opportunities for growth and innovation. By investing in sustainable technologies and practices, we can create a more environmentally friendly and economically sustainable future.

Allow me to mention some.
The lack of adequate infrastructure such as power supply to charging stations for electric cars and a lack of public transportation both top my list. These are major problems we are faced with as a nation in our transition from traditional gasoline-powered cars to electric cars. And with the recent deregulation of fuel in Nigeria, Nigerians would swiftly take any other viable option that will take them from point A to B. For instance, it can take as little as 30 minutes or up to 20 hours to fully charge an electric car depending on the charger being used and the size of the car battery. Most parts of Nigeria are still victims of the epileptic power supply bedevilling us as
people.

The high cost of financing automobile projects is another major challenge facing automobile development in Nigeria. This has made it difficult for local manufacturers to compete with foreign manufacturers. They are faced with high costs of production due to the high costs of raw materials and the need for economies of scale.

Rigorous exportation bottlenecks and ineffective quality control measures have also impeded automobile development in Nigeria. This has led to the production of vehicles that are not competitive in the global market. Automakers and suppliers must consequently reevaluate the sustainability of their goods and value chains. Their biggest issue in this situation is to adhere to legal regulations, government policies and taxes while also ensuring cost-effective manufacturing and satisfying consumer needs. The industry will need to create sustainable solutions that modify the product, policies and value chain in order to achieve this delicate balancing act.

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There is also a lack of awareness about the benefits of sustainable development in the automobile industry. Many people are not aware of the environmental impact of cars and the benefits of using public transportation. Nigerians need to become aware that owning a car is not a status symbol. Our people should be educated to know that sharing is a better alternative than owning to reduce air pollution.
Additionally, there are limited resources available for sustainable development in the automobile industry. This includes limited funding for research and development and limited access to renewable energy sources.

Benefits of Sustainable Development in the Automobile Industry

Sustainable development can help reduce the emissions produced by cars. This can help improve air quality and reduce the impact of climate change. By reducing emissions and improving air quality, sustainable development can help improve public health. Current global developments like carbon-neutral manufacturing and zero-emission automobiles show how sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the automotive sector. These developments are not only being fueled by the implementation of stronger emissions rules or even quota, but also by a growing public consciousness of environmental and sustainability issues as well as consumer demand for environmentally friendly automobiles.

Sustainable technologies can often be more cost-effective in the long run, developing new technologies and finding new ways to use renewable energy sources along the way. For example, electric cars are cheaper to operate than traditional gasoline-powered cars because electricity is cheaper than gasoline.

Sustainable development can also create new jobs in the automobile industry. This includes jobs related to research and development, manufacturing, and maintenance.

Ways to Encourage Innovation and Creativity among Engineers and Designers

The world is evolving, and so must we. We must invest in research and development to ensure that our automobile industry remains competitive in the global market. This is consistent with the objectives for the establishment of the Nigerian Society of Engineers which is to promote the advancement of engineering education, research, and practice in all its ramifications. We must encourage innovation and creativity among our engineers, enthusiasts and designers. In recent times, there have been some sparks of brilliant and ingenuous inventions by some Nigerians. As a body, we need to harvest these bright minds and work together to improve their brainchild.
Collaboration is germane to innovation. By working together, engineers and designers can share ideas and build on each other’s strengths.

Of course, to be precise and accurate in decision-making and designing a working cosmos, engineers and designers need to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends in their field. Providing training and development opportunities can help them stay current and develop new skills.

Another point of call that we need to pay attention to as a people is rewarding and recognizing creativity. This can be done through access to grants, loans, or other incentives. Engineers and designers need access to the right tools and resources to be innovative. This includes software, hardware, and other equipment.

The exploration and mining of natural resources relevant to the automobile industries should also be prioritized. High-grade Lithium and every other critical material that can be used for the production of electric vehicle batteries are found scattered across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. Setting up a workable legal framework for investors and
miners in which Nigeria gets to benefit both in the long and short run will assist to preserve the sustainable future of our automobile industry.

How to Change Nigeria’s Automobile Experience to Be More Sustainable
As earlier noted, the automobile industry in Nigeria has experienced dwindling growth in recent years. However, with the emergence of many leading indigenous manufacturers like Nord Automobiles Ltd., Innoson Vehicles and Proforce Ltd., Nigeria has been able to contribute her own quota to the African automobile space. However, there are concerns about the improvement and sustainability of this growth. One of the main issues is the environmental impact of automobiles. Cars produce emissions that contribute to air pollution and climate change.

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To address these concerns, radical change is currently taking place in the automotive business in developed climes. The four primary trends that are driving this revolution are connected cars, shared mobility services, autonomous driving, and electro-mobility (or e-Mobility). Adopting
these trends should be considered and pursued by stakeholders in our automobile industry. The increased interest in electric vehicles and cutting-edge mobility options demonstrates how crucial the topic of sustainability has become. Investors and lenders are also paying greater attention in the meanwhile since they want to comprehend the climate risks faced by automakers and suppliers and prevent reputational harm from partnering with climate-unfriendly organizations.

Both new consumer choices and political initiatives are accelerating this trend. At least partially, some manufacturers and suppliers have already reacted to these changes. For instance, they are expanding their fleet of electric vehicles and offering adaptable mobility options. The potential is still far from being used up. To make the automobile sector a really sustainable one, a workableclear path needs to be travelled.

NSE’s Possible Research Trajectory
As a body of professionals, a Sustainability Management Document must be strategically drafted and implemented so that it simultaneously seeks economic profit and adds value to society. These issues of strategy & foresight offers need to cover the long-term strategy, short- to medium-term strategy, the scope of public-private partnership, and digital technology. Solutions that are feasible, affordable, and long-lasting should drive us in our quest for this sustainability.

 

NSE should also ensure that automakers and suppliers are properly guided on the need to take into account issues of carbon emissions and global warming when considering realistic, affordable alternatives while incorporating sustainability into their business models.

In order to create low-carbon and sustainable business initiatives that are successful, doable, and tangible, we need to take a pragmatic and collaborative approach. Together with other relevant institutions, both local and internationally, we can harness the global sustainability initiatives and our nation will become the better for it.

On our path to automobile sustainability, we must seek to provide answers to the following questions.

  • Which powertrain configurations, such as fuel cells or electric batteries, are ideal for enabling Nigeria to reduce carbon emissions??
  • What knowledge and abilities are required to put these solutions into practice
  • How can we gauge our carbon footprint while also making sure we adhere to legal
    requirements?
  • As we transform in the direction of sustainability, which processes should we prioritize?
  • How can we put sustainable solutions like recycling batteries and a circular economy into practice?
  • Which digital skills and technology must be adopted to promote environmentally friendly car solutions?
  • What impact do digital tools and processes have on our nation’s sustainability goals?
  • How can we ensure data security and protection?

In Conclusion
I would like to emphasize that the sustainable development of our automobile system is crucial for the future of our country. Overall, there is a growing awareness of the need for sustainability in the automobile industry in Nigeria. While there are still many challenges to overcome, there is reason for optimism that sustainable development can be achieved. We must work together to ensure that our industry continues to grow and thrive while also protecting our environment.

Thank you for your attention

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