Home » Smarter mobility solutions to match the needs of the rising African population

Smarter mobility solutions to match the needs of the rising African population

by Justin

With a growing population and a strong consensus to put sustainability first, the need for smarter mobility solutions is a priority for governments, globally. For example, in South Africa and according to Stats SA, the estimated population stands at 60.6 million people as of June 2022. Despite the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa experienced a positive population growth rate between 2002 and 2022. More people mean an influx in transportation, therefore, it is imperative to adopt smarter mobility solutions to accommodate the growing population, increase quality of life, create economic and job opportunities and reduce carbon emissions.

Smart mobility involves a network of intelligent transportation and mobility. The transportation infrastructure that we use in our daily lives is being re-thought from the perspective of technology and mobility. The concept encompasses all forms of mobility from walking and cycling to electric vehicles, from public transportation systems to e-hailing services, and taking it further looking at how we power and integrate the power for these modes of transport.

Taking place during the South African October Transport Month, and providing the launch platform for October Transport Month in the Gauteng Province, the summit aims to promote discussion of the future of transport and create economic, social, and environmental opportunities. In partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Department of Roads and Transport, Smarter Mobility Africa will host the summit from 5 – 7 October at the CSIR International Convention Centre in the City of Tshwane.

Bernard Peille, Managing Director from Alstom, the headline partner powering the summit for the 3rd year running says, “We must rethink how we live and travel in order to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among the collective transportation systems, rail is the most environmentally friendly. Among all modes of public transport, it is the most efficient and effective in terms of energy efficiency per passenger kilometre.”

When we look at our roads, according to AutoTrader CEO, George Mienie, while South African shoppers are actively looking for opportunities to purchase EVs (electric vehicles) – with the major challenge still being their relatively high purchase prices, more awareness is still needed. “The automotive industry needs to do a lot more to educate the consumer when it comes to EV driving and ownership.”

Ben Pullen, Chairman and Founder of Smarter Mobility Africa says transport is an essential component of everyday life. “People need transport to get to work, school, transport goods, etc. Some travel for three or even six hours and spend a huge amount of their income to travel to work. There’s a need to try and improve transport on that level.” He adds: “We have fantastic infrastructure in South Africa, and it’s about how we better use the infrastructure.”

By connecting start-ups with a global and local audience of businesses, investors, governments, and media, the SMA summit is Africa’s platform for solution providers in mobility. Commenting on just example of recent innovation, e-hailing services, Ben says: “If you look at Uber and Bolt, these were simple start-ups just a few years ago, but today these are household names. African start-ups, SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), and corporations can and are creating the mobility solutions which can be scaled across Africa, and the world!”

A number of Africa’s latest and greatest mobility start-ups will exhibit at the Arigo Startup Village free of charge. The final day of the summit will see tech start-ups doing “elevator pitches”, contributing to job creation.

The past few years have seen a global revolution take place in the transport sector. More people have looked towards walking, cycling, and utilising a range of mobility services such as bus, rail, hailing, sharing and so on. And more and more people are going electric. According to NAAMSA, the Automotive Business Council, the first two quarters of 2022 saw 205 fully-electric vehicles sold in South Africa, one of the countries falling behind in the production of electric vehicles (EV). Stellenbosch University electrical and electronic engineering Professor Thinus Booysen says the vehicles which are produced in SA are exported to the UK and Europe, but these markets no longer want Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) and are instead vying for EVs. He emphasised the urgency for the government to “incentivise the local production of EVs because a catastrophe was waiting”.

GreenCape’s 2022 Electric Vehicles Market Intelligence Report reads that the South African EV market, with the support of local manufacturing, offers the promise of sustainable economic growth and increased economic resilience. Furthermore, it will counteract the inevitable decline in demand for ICE vehicles across the globe, which is a consequence of climate change mitigation measures. The report suggests that the public transportation sector, especially the bus market, which produces buses mostly for the domestic market, there is the strongest case for electrification and manufacturing. Public procurement of buses in SA is subject to 80% local content requirements by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition.

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