It is an undisputable fact that due to the government’s efforts and recent events imposed by the pandemic; Especially with the preparation of hosting COP27 next November, Egypt has witnessed a clear improvement in air quality and overall climate during the past few years, recording a noticeable decline in air pollution and 8% reduction in carbon emissions in 2020 alone.
“Car exhausts remains the major air polluter in Egypt”, this statement stands as the most crucial takeaway from a study published in 2018 by The Eco Experts, an environmentalist global platform. The study, conducted on 48 cities, named Cairo as one of the world’s most polluted cities, shedding light on the magnitude of the situation and the need to reduce carbon emissions in the country.
Although energy transition to renewable resources is a key contributor to improving overall pollution rates, car exhausts, described by the study as the “major air polluter in Egypt”, remain a significant threat to these efforts. The Egyptian government has therefore developed and actioned an effective strategy to bypass these hazards, with the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy recently announcing plans to launch and supply 3,000 charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) across Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Sharm El-Sheikh, and various highways in an effort to encourage the adoption of environmentally friendly electric vehicles.
The impact of car exhausts on air quality in overcrowded cities is evident and severe. The European Environment Agency has monitored and tested such cities at which car movement was restricted or banned for limited times and recorded a 50% reduction in the harmful Nitrogen Dioxide gas within one week in such events. This further proves the accuracy of the aforementioned study that car exhausts are the biggest source of pollution, not just in Egypt but all over the world. This underlines the significance of Egypt’s plan to connect and launch electric vehicle charging stations.
The important question here is how we can take advantage of the opportunity presented by the pandemic, which radically contributed to lowering carbon emissions. Once pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, human activity will resume as per the norm, and car exhausts will once again spike, causing irreparable damages to the environment.
EVs to the rescue
The answer to this question lies in the living experience we all went through during the pandemic. While we can’t completely abandon cars, we can replace petrol-fueled vehicles with clean and environmentally friendly ones - the solution is Electric Vehicles.
As proven by a myriad of scientific studies, EVs have many advantages, the top of which is that they have three times less emissions released by traditional vehicles. They’re also easy to operate and hardly as noisy as their traditional counterparts.
Economically, the advantages of EVs are countless; they generate work opportunities for employees in manufacturing plants, repair centers, charging stations; in addition to luring huge green investments that will help kickstart many companies and startups. As for the government, tax and shipment regulations applied to the EVs industry will create a new source of revenues allowing the country to invest and address the needs of its citizens.
It’s us or petrol-fueled cars
As CAPMAS reports 11.6 million vehicles currently roaming the streets in Egypt, today’s challenge is to develop an adequate infrastructure and provide enough charging stations across all governorates to facilitate the adoption of EVs on a mass scale. To overcome this challenge, one must consider exploiting technological advances to accelerate this process, keep up with rising demand and later on varying customer needs such as remote & fast charging techniques, and even enabling remote maintenance and repair of EVs.
All in all, the future of the planet depends on the choices we make on a daily basis, top of which is our choice of commute. Will we choose the future of our planet over petrol-fueled vehicles?
Our commitment to innovative sustainability isn’t only evident in Egypt, but across the region. In Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization already approved the use of Schneider Electric’s electric vehicle charging station, the EVlink Smart Wallbox, a step representing a true milestone in the kingdom’s move into the age of electric vehicles and sustainable transportation.
This is a clear testament to our commitment to the vision of any country within which we operate, including Egypt which adopts a development vision that is in line with Schneider Electric's strategy. Essentially, our goal is to achieve a societal transformation towards sustainability, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, and, eventually, lowering carbon emissions and saving our planet.
The writer is Schneider Electric's Cluster President for Northeast Africa and Levant