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Mustapha Gajibo: This Nigerian Innovator is Building Electric Vehicles After Dropping Out of College

Vehicles in Nigeria run on gasoline, and the sheer quantity of people driving contributes to the country’s air pollution, which is among the worst in the world. However, one Nigerian innovator wishes to introduce electric automobiles to Nigerians.

Mustapha Abubakar Gajibo, a university dropout from the University of Maiduguri, dropped out in his third year since he was admitted to study General Agriculture rather than Electrical Engineering, which he aspired to pursue in order to accomplish his aspirations.

In the northern city of Maiduguri, he launched Phoenix Renewables Limited, a domestic electric-vehicle company. The location of Gajibo is especially intriguing, given that Maiduguri is one of the most dangerous 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 effort involved converting the internal-combustion engines of regularly used municipal vehicles to electric equivalents. According to MIT Technology Review, he concentrated on two cars that are very prevalent among the average Nigerian. The first was a seven-seater minibus, and the second was kekes, which are powered tricycles.

He then transitioned from modifying internal-combustion engines to designing and developing electric vehicles from the ground up. In 2021, he debuted a 12-seater bus made from local raw materials — 60 to 70% of his raw materials are supplied locally.

Furthermore, the bus has a range of 212 kilometers and can be fully charged in less than an hour thanks to a solar-powered system incorporated into the back. Gajibo claims that his 12-seater solar-powered minibus cost roughly $10,000 to build, and he hopes to distribute 500 units throughout 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.”

The Nigerian government has taken note of his idea. The governor of Borno State, where Maiduguri is located, awarded him $45,000 for research and development. He was also given 15,000 square meters of land to build a plant on.

Not only that, but the Nigerian government has showed interest in having his company produce electric patrol vehicles for the police and military. According to Gajibo, 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 claims that with the correct capital, raw material availability, and foreign exchange, he could create 5,000 electric vehicles per year.

It has not always been easy to establish Phoenix Renewables Limited. According to the young entrepreneur, he has overcome numerous hurdles in his short career. He claims that his ability to manufacture electric automobiles has been faced with skepticism and funding obstacles.

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