Avatar photo
BY Abu Mubarik, 1:00pm April 26, 2023,

This Nigerian innovator is building electric vehicles after dropping out of college

Mustapha Abubakar Gajibo. Photo credit: MIT Technology Review

In Nigeria, vehicles use gasoline, and the sheer number of people using cars in the West African nation contributes to the country’s air pollution, which is one of the worst in the world. However, one Nigerian innovator wants to introduce Nigerians to electric vehicles.

Mustapha Abubakar Gajibo, a university dropout from the University of Maiduguri, dropped out of college in his third year because he was given admission to study General Agriculture instead of Electrical Engineering, which he passionately wanted to study to realize his dreams.

He founded Phoenix Renewables Limited, a homegrown electric-­vehicle industry in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. The choice of location for Gajibo is also interesting, considering the fact that Maiduguri is one of the volatile states in Northern Nigeria.

“I ventured into solar system installation and later to the building of electric vehicles amid my passion for solving societal challenges,” Gajibo told The Leadership.

His first project was to convert the internal-combustion engines of commonly used vehicles in the city to electric versions. According to MIT Technology Review, he focused on two very common vehicles in Nigeria to the average person. The first was the seven-seater minibus and the second, motorized tricycles known as kekes.

He later moved from converting internal-combustion engines to building electric vehicles from scratch. In 2021, he introduced a 12-seater bus assembled through local raw materials – 60 to 70 percent of his raw materials are sourced locally.

Moreover, the bus has a 212-kilometer range and can be fully charged in less than one hour through a solar-powered system integrated into the back. Gajibo says it cost around $10,000 to make his 12-seater solar-powered minibus, and he plans to roll out 500 units across eight Nigerian cities. 

“Our products are quite affordable, and the cost of the vehicle is one of the major things we put into consideration,” he says. “The only way to achieve that is by fully designing and building these vehicles locally.”

His innovation has not gone unnoticed by the Nigerian government. He received $45,000 for research and development from the governor of Borno State, where Maiduguri is situated. He also received 15,000 square meters of land for a factory. 

That is not all, the Nigerian government also expressed interest in having his firm build electric patrol vehicles for the police and armed forces. Gajibo says his ultimate goal is to compete with Tesla.

“We want to have our vehicles driven in New York, London, Munich, and other big cities across the world,” he told MIT Technology Review.

Gajibo says with the right funding, access to raw materials, and foreign exchange, he could produce 5,000 electric vehicles yearly.

Starting Phoenix Renewables Limited has not always been rosy. According to the young innovator, he has faced many challenges in his young career. He says his ability to make electric vehicles was met with skepticism and funding challenges.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 26, 2023


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates