Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), which is tasked by government with promoting technological innovation to stimulate economic growth, has announced the launch of a far-reaching new initiative, the E-Mobility programme.
The initiative aims to identify, facilitate and support the development of new technologies in order to create a commercially viable infrastructure for the use of electric vehicles for both private and business purposes.
The project is in collaboration with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and other key stakeholders such as car manufacturers, Nissan and BMW, power utility Eskom, battery technology company Willard (PowerTech), and other partners such as Siemens and Sasol.
TIA says it aims to accelerate development of key technologies and skills necessary to create a nationwide electrical vehicle systems support network, which will include new charging station technologies, and advanced technologies, advanced battery testing and re-handling facilities.
The programme is open for collaboration with any entrepreneur, researcher or inventor in South Africa looking for support to accelerate development and commercialization of their systems.
The e-Mobility programme will focus exclusively on the viability and widespread introduction of new technologies and processes key to the success of a viable electric vehicle industry, given that South Africa will import these vehicles for the next few years.
Global investment bank HSBC estimates that approximately 18 million electric vehicles will be in use worldwide by 2020. Of these, 8.7 million will be 100% electric, while 9.2 million with be hybrids, which combine and internal combustion engine with electric capabilities.
The TIA noted that part of the challenge will be to ensure that a conversion to electric transportation will not be hampered by electricity shortages and also that the electricity used will be generated from sustainable sources.
Dr Mamphele Ramphele is chairman of the board of the Technology Innovation Agency.