BY: Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb Senior News Journalist.

E-hailing firm Uber is engaging governments across Africa, urging the creation of a favourable regulatory environment to help accelerate the rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) on the continent.

This was shared by Frans Hiemstra, GM for Uber in the Middle East and Africa region, speaking at an Uber event held in Cairo, Egypt, at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is expected to open its doors to the public at the end of 2023.

According to Hiemstra, the world’s largest e-hailing company is working to draw governments’ attention to the importance of developing a clear policy framework that will help better prepare the continent for the electrification of transport.

This, as global countries race to establish zero-emission vehicle policies and incentives to increase rollout, generate interest and make EVs more affordable for the general public.

In 2020, Uber announced a global commitment to become a zero-emission mobility platform by 2040, through its Green Future programme. This initiative provides access to resources valued at $800 million, to help thousands of drivers transition to battery EVs by 2025 in Canada, Europe and the US.

The company also established a collaboration with Go Green Africa, a network of organisations committed to accelerating Africa’s transition to a green economy in a just and inclusive way.

“Government lays the foundation of the country moving in a more sustainable environment, but government cannot do that alone,” commented Hiemstra.

“They need companies like Uber to be able to execute on their sustainable vision. The challenge with electric vehicles today is [mainly] affordability – total cost of ownership. Private companies and governments have the opportunity to influence this by trying to influence policy-makers to introduce the right incentives, and trying to influence OEMs to provide more affordable vehicle components.”

Uber is already engaging SA’s government regarding the matter, as the country sees slow but steady growth of EV adoption compared to the rest of the globe. SA had 4 764 new energy vehicles on local roads by the end of 2022, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.

According to the 2022 AutoTrader Mid-Year Industry Report, although there is demand for EVs from South African customers, the high prices and range anxiety due to the lack of charging infrastructure are among the biggest hurdles to increased adoption.

Local vehicle industry players have for years brought to light the numerous challenges hindering the country from progressing in the EV market.

These include the lack of supportive regulatory frameworks and additional incentives to safeguard EV sales from the high costs resulting from the economic downturn, and insufficient public charging stations across the country.

In 2021, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition released the Draft Auto Green Paper as a step towards establishing a clear policy foundation that will enable the country to coordinate a long-term strategy that will position it at the forefront of advanced vehicle and vehicle component manufacturing.

“We have to use the partnerships that private companies have with governments to be able to influence and push countries forward to a more sustainable future,” said Hiemstra.

“A sustainable future is not necessarily just about EVs; it can include a broader range of multi-modal transport. And we have taken a few steps to launch these types of vehicles across various markets through Uber Green.”

Uber Green − a low-emission ride option that connects riders with hybrid and electric vehicles − has already been rolled out in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Middle East and North Africa, and in certain parts of Canada, Europe and the US, he added.

“In the UAE, we have made a specific commitment – to have one in four trips done in an electric vehicle by the year 2030. We are making really good strides towards this and we are pretty much at 10% already. I look forward to us beating this commitment before 2030.”


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