Monday, June 24, 2024
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HomeFeaturedEastern Cape Government launches its electric vehicle charging stations

Eastern Cape Government launches its electric vehicle charging stations

Celebrating 100 Years of the automotive sector in the Eastern Cape.

By AIDC-EC CEO, Thabo Shenxane

This year (2024) marks 100 years of automotive engineering in South Africa, which started in 1923 when Ford Motor Company opened its doors in Gqeberha (then Port Elizabeth). It also marks and reinforces a very strong role that the Eastern Cape province has played and continues to play in the automotive sector.

Together with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the Eastern Cape is home to the automotive industry in South Africa. The province produces 46% of all vehicles produced in the country and exports 54% of all vehicles exported through its ports.

The Eastern Cape is a gateway for vehicles to 152 destinations globally and is estimated to employ 65 000 through its Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and component suppliers.

Underpinning this stable growth of the automotive sector and strong role of the province is a consistent and continuous development of automotive policy instruments since 1924, led by the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (the dtic), that has responded to a variety of industry requirements.

AIDC-EC CEO, Thabo Shenxane, at the EV charging stations’ launch.

The most recent is the SA Automotive Masterplan 2035, the White Paper on Electric Vehicles (EVs), released by the dtic in December 2023 and the New Energy Incentives announced by the Minister of Finance in February 2024.

This article demonstrates a response by the Eastern Cape Government to one of the White Paper policy priorities, which is establishing EV Charging Infrastructure.

As an important player in the automotive sector in the country, the AIDC-EC has taken a lead in the recent past to navigate the electric vehicle transition initiatives globally and interpreting what those initiatives mean for the competitiveness of the province.

The AIDC-EC is seeking to ensure that the sector continues to crowd in investments and protect and grow the jobs that the sector has secured over the past 100 years, into the future.

Policy mandate through SOPA

In 2022, the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, led by Premier Mabuyane, announced a policy directive that mandated the AIDC-EC, through his State of the Province Address to establish a network of electric vehicle charging stations across strategic locations in the province, for the following reasons:

  • Show the province’s commitment to investors about securing the future of the automotive sector in the Eastern Cape.
  • Stimulate demand from consumers to buy and drive electric vehicles.
  • Encourage mobility and free movement of electric vehicles within the province.
  • Link the Eastern Cape Province to the already established network of electric vehicles nationally.

Funding was then allocated by MEC Mvoko’s Department of Finance and Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), with a specific mandate to establish 13 electric vehicle charging stations in strategic locations in the province. They are targeted to be established in strategic locations that will facilitate ease of driving.

Mr Mlungisi Mvoko, MEC: Finance and Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Credit: AIDC-EC

The rollout plan is targeted for Stormsriver, Graaff Reinet, Cradock, Cookhouse, Gqeberha, Makhanda, Qonce, Komani, eMonti, Aliwal North and Mthatha.

The launch of the first 2 electric vehicle charging stations took place in Libode (Dan’s Country Lodge) and eMonti (Grazia Conference Centre). Both launches were presided over by MEC Mvoko and both his HODs, Ms Mama of DEDEAT & Mr Majeke in Finance.

Libode Station

A major benefit of the Libode electric vehicle charging station is that it is a link for travellers between KZN and the Western Cape, on the N2. Without the Libode station, an electric vehicle owner would not be able to reach East London from KZN, the electric vehicle will run out of power, with the next station in East London. 

Similarly, travellers from Cape Town will not be able to drive past East London without the Libode station. This station is therefore strategic on a number of fronts:

  • It links Eastern Cape to both KZN and Western Cape for EV owners.
  • It will promote tourism to the region.
  • It will promote local economic development.
  • It will promote ease of mobility.

eMonti Station

The Eastern London station is based on Esplanade, next to Grazia Restaurant. This location was selected because of the amenities in the area such as Grazia Restaurant, the beautiful beachfront, Virgin Active Gym, ICC and other hotels. Drivers, whilst charging their vehicles and can make use of the amenities and explore the beauty of East London.

The East London EV charging station. Credit: AIDC-EC

Coincidentally, during the launch a driver of an EV came looking to charge at the newly launched charging station and he advised that he had spotted the charging station which had just gone live on Google Maps, much to his relief. He expressed his relief because he was worried about driving back to Gqeberha.

What’s next?

  1. This financial year, the AIDC-EC will be rolling out all of the remaining 11 charging stations across the province.
  2. The AIDC-EC will be releasing a comprehensive Electric Vehicle Strategy Roadmap for the Eastern Cape that will clarify other areas that the province will be supporting, including electric vehicle skills, government fleet conversion to EVs, bus fleet conversion to EVs, EV incubation, etc.

Visit AIDC-EC at https://www.aidcec.co.za/

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