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WATCH | Gautrain leads the way in preparing SA for green technology use

A recent TimesLIVE Dialogue discussed Africa's appropriateness for the implementation of digitalised transport systems

22 April 2022 - 10:39

As Africa prepares to fully enter the digital age, smart mobility will become vital, with hyperconnectivity and digitalisation a central part of the process. Businesses will become more efficient, new skills will be required for new jobs and economies will grow.

In SA, green technology is a priority for business and government. Is the country ready for this transformation? A recent TimesLIVE Dialogue, in partnership with the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA), focused on this issue. The discussion posed the question of whether digitalising transport systems with green technologies will help address the challenge of poverty and unemployment in Gauteng.

GMA COO Tshepo Kgobe said smart technology is an “efficient and effective mobility system, using appropriate technology”, which needs to be set up correctly.

The GMA is committed to going green and remaining eco-friendly. New buses will be bought only if their engines can be converted to an electric or hybrid system in the future. Single ticketing, which previously accounted for 4-million plastic cards, is being replaced with account-based ticketing. Kgobe conceded, however, that a balance must be found for the unbanked. 

Collaboration between the private and public sectors is required if transport is to become a catalyst for economic development. The Gauteng provincial government’s long-term aim is to restructure urban landscapes using the transport system to connect densified cores efficiently. The proposed Gauteng rapid rail network extensions are intended to connect these cores to special economic zones situated on the urban edge.

The Gautrain Management Agency is committed to going green and remaining eco-friendly.
The Gautrain Management Agency is committed to going green and remaining eco-friendly.
Image: Supplied

Datacentric mobility, with open data and the right apps developed by the private sector, will allow commuters to select eco-transport options. Though Gauteng is a freight and logistics hub, “last-mile” solutions still need to be found. Ideally these will be green solutions that create jobs and empower locals. One idea that has been suggested is to employ scooter drivers to make collections from local freight depots and then distribute these collections to homes. 

Harnessing technology in the transport sector can be a means of social upliftment in Gauteng.

SA needs to rebuild the construct of freight, said Kgobe. He explained that when technology is used correctly, logistics providers are able to operate more cost-effectively. The open-data policies being developed will allow multiple stakeholders to have a “window” to a particular link. This means not only will operators have access to the necessary data to better manage logistics, but the public will choose which data they need to access while transport management will oversee the process. At the same time academics will be provided with feedback for modelling purposes.

Kgobe said Gauteng’s new transport management centre will open later in 2022 and will be able to direct traffic in the whole province to prevent traffic jams and ensure access for essential services. Gauteng is responsible for 37% of SA’s GDP and this will ensure a constant flow of traffic with information accessible from a smartphone, much of it with zero-rated data.

What is clear is that these new digital technologies require new skill sets which will create new jobs. This is all part of GMA’s commercialisation strategy as it strives to provide data-based lifestyle services. 

This article was paid for by Gautrain.