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2021 Fleet Forum Conference: Electric vehicles – WHEN, NOT IF

Updated: Jul 12, 2021


At the 2021 Fleet Forum Conference Fleet Forum set the agenda to facilitate the proliferation of electric vehicles (EV) in the aid & development sector.


Fleet Forum highlights EV pilot projects in Africa, learn from their undertakings, and hear advice for EV implementation. Many international organizstions (UN, ICRC etc) have made commitments to sustainability through cleaner fleets, this includes introducing electric vehicle fleet composition targets. While there have been many practical roadblocks and those of perception, Fleet Forum states “it’s a matter of when, not if.”


Strong commitment to sustainability

Many aid and development organisation (UN, INGOs, Red Cross Movement etc) have made commitments to sustainability through cleaner fleets, this includes introducing electric vehicle fleet composition targets. It’s a matter of when, not if. Aid and development organisations have an opportunity to take a leadership position to develop plans and proliferate electric vehicles in the countries they operate in, and further refine implementation through experiential learning.


Challenging, but possible

For some, the concept of an electric vehicle boils down to a battery on wheels, their range dependent on the nearest charging location. Electric vehicles are not as limited and can provide benefits or services to the grid by using bi-directional charging to potentially sell excess power back to the grid or to even power your home. This may offset the cost of buying an electric vehicle. Another useful feature of EV charging is managing the amount of time taken to charge and charge levels.


“The switch to low and zero emission fleets in Africa is challenging, but possible.”— Rob de Jong (UNEP). UNDP has conducted a vehicle-to-grid project in Namibia since 2017. The lessons learned through this project are relevant for organisations seeking to electrify their fleet:

  • It is not only a matter of buying vehicles and installing technologies. When multiple partners are involved, its even more important to have a clear communication plan and identify focal points for the full duration of the project

  • The country office needs technical capacity to benefit from Vehicle-Grid-Integration (VGI), training is a key enabler of this


ICRC has set off on an initiative to test EVs in Kenya and Jordan. At the 2021 Fleet Forum Conference, Victor Otieno and Tareq Sulliman, Fleet New Technology Advisors explain the steps taken to prepare for the piloting and roll-out of EVs. They conclude that EV implementation is feasible, and highlight benefits such as lower maintenance rate and costs, and overall lower operation costs at scale. They do note for all interested in purchasing EVs, to be aware of the onboard charging system, which will affect charge rates and thus daily planning.


The external environment is rapidly changing

In the past two years external factors have also been changing rapidly:

  • Vehicle manufacturers are committed to Move to Green

  • EVs are already in Africa on a small scale, from taxi companies in Kenya to scooters in Mozambique

  • A&D sector can definitely use vehicles in capital cities. With vehicles averaging 80km/day its is a perfect fit for EV’s that have a minimum 280km range.

  • Battery technology is seeing constant incremental improvement in storage capacity and resilience.

  • Vehicles equipped with solar panels will endlessly benefit from the steady solar supply for operations in Africa.


What are vehicle OEMs and distributors doing?

The humanitarian fleet management community has the potential to to get the electrification of Africa started. Fleet Forum member Kjaer & Kjaer is a frontrunner and shared an interesting offer to Fleet Forum members at the 2021 Conference. Rather than waiting, Kjaer & Kjaer is eager to help organisations interested in testing EV usage. They have prepared a special starter pack offer for Fleet Forum members, available in 8 African countries in 2021.


Toyota aims to introduce practical & sustainable electric vehicles which meet customer needs for the African region starting in 2021. These electric vehicles will be produced in Africa, for Africa. Toyota is 100% committed to achieving Carbon Neutrality around the world. For Toyota this means achieving ZERO CO2 emissions in all processes of the vehicles lifecycle, from manufacturing to disposal, and doing so while offering products that ensure the safety and security of their customers. There is a strong commitment from Toyota to introduce HEV models in Africa and other types of EVs in the future.


Africa is ready for electrification

Paul Jansen, Executive Director states “To shift from readiness to reality, it will require different actors to step up and play their part”

  • More OEM’s need to take the step towards electrification, sell these and provide aftersales support

  • Aid and development organisations need to be brave and take the first step: start EV pilots in Africa, use the vehicles and gain data to learn from. It is important to lean from the initial pilots and spread the message.

  • Global Fleet Managers need to work across the organisation to eliminate the perception that 4x4s are needed in all operating environments.



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