Wed | Dec 1, 2021

JPS, IDB Lab establish fund to assist entrepreneurs with EV financing

Published:Saturday | October 23, 2021 | 12:09 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter

A banner advertising the JPS Re-Imagine Campaign is seen mounted at the headquarters of Jamaica Public Service Company in 2016. JPS Foundation and IDB Lab are collaborating on a e-mobility/electric vehicle ecosystem project, which includes the launch of a
A banner advertising the JPS Re-Imagine Campaign is seen mounted at the headquarters of Jamaica Public Service Company in 2016. JPS Foundation and IDB Lab are collaborating on a e-mobility/electric vehicle ecosystem project, which includes the launch of a fund announced October 21, 2021 to finance entrepreneurs.

The e-mobility project launched by the Jamaica Public Service Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank’s innovation unit, IDB Lab, to accelerate the development of electric vehicle technology in Jamaica, has established an electric mobility fund that entrepreneurs can tap for concessionary financing, particularly women in the micro and small business sector.

Details about the fund and the banking partners with which the JPS and IDB Lab will partner on disbursements were not forthcoming up to press time. It will provide financing for innovative green projects across sectors such as transportation, agriculture and tourism.

The establishment of the e-mobility fund is the second of three components of the jointly funded e-mobility ecosystem project, the first being a public awareness and market- sensitisation campaign around the development of a sustainable electric-mobility market, and the third, technical capacity building and training.

So far, the three-year project, initiated through the JPS Foundation, has deployed 10 electric vehicle or EV charging stations in partnership with gas stations nationwide.

The light and power company is trying to shape charging behaviour with the announcement of ‘time of use’ rates, which will apply to individuals and commercial owners of the 50,000 electric vehicles projected to be in use in Jamaica by 2030.

Another company, InterEnergy Group Limited, is investing $150 million through local subsidiary Evergo Jamaica in the roll-out of 60 electric vehicle charging stations nationally by year end. Evergo is a sister company to Jamaica Energy Partners, which is one of the independent power providers contracted to sell electricity to the JPS.

On the Government’s end, an Electric Vehicle Council has been established to provide oversight and to review any policies, legislation, and regulations related to the deployment of EVs in Jamaica. The council held its first meeting on May 14, 2021, and approved the e-mobility strategic framework that will facilitate the growth of EVs in Jamaica. In the meantime, the Ministry of Science Energy and Technology is seeking the approval of the Cabinet for the overarching policy framework.

Now attention has turned to extending financial support to entrepreneurs in the transportation businesses as well as to sectors beyond the heavily talked- about automotive industry.

Focus is also on the development of new business models by leveraging emerging technology and complementary services in the ecosystem. The project includes innovation challenges for entrepreneurs, internship opportunities for university students, and development of a logistics digital solution to support access to EV charging networks.

“Many of our female entrepreneurs’ businesses went under at the onset of COVID-19, and they are trying to pivot and to see new opportunities. Some of the changes that we can anticipate as it relates to electric technology is not just vehicles. We are looking at electric scooters, power chairs, and even fishing boats and engines,” Ethnie Miller Simpson, president of the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean said during the JPS-IDB Lab Women’s Electric Vehicle Forum on Thursday.

“The e-mobility fund will be a key component of our conversations moving forward. We still need to work out how the financing will be done, the incentives, what will the service be like, and how practical will it be, especially for females,” said Miller Simpson.

Globally, large businesses like Amazon have started the switch to electric vehicles. Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have committed to having all electric vehicles by 2030 and to investing US$800 million by 2025 to help drivers switch to all EV.

Locally, e-commerce company Mailpac has started its transition to EV.

“One of the areas that I think is ripe for growth in Jamaica’s EV sector is taxi service,” said JPS Director of Business Development Dionne Nugent.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com