Uber is confident in SA’s EV future as it transitions to zero-emission platform by 2040

The electric vehicles for Uber Package will first be available in Cape Town. The launch of the product is a key step in transitioning the Uber Package fleet to be fully electric by 2023. Photo: Supplied

The electric vehicles for Uber Package will first be available in Cape Town. The launch of the product is a key step in transitioning the Uber Package fleet to be fully electric by 2023. Photo: Supplied

Published Nov 8, 2023


Uber was confident that South Africa would come on board with an electric vehicles (EV) policy. It was a question of when, Kagiso Khaole, the general manager of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, said yesterday as he announced the ride-hailing platform had a global target of becoming a zero-emission platform by 2040.

Khaole was speaking as Uber yesterday commemorated its 10-year anniversary in South Africa as the group announced the launch of its first electric mobility product, e-Packaging.

This has big implications for thousands of South Africa Uber drivers who by that time will have to ditch fossil fuel run cars and move to EVs.

In an interview, Khaole said to make this happen in South Africa a lot of partners needed to come on board.

He said the work that was being done in the public sector in enabling the EV environment “is really encouraging”, referring to the work that was currently being done in the Presidency, the Industrial Development Corporation and different areas.

Khaole said he was not discouraged by the delay in South Africa’s publishing a supporting policy for the development of EVs, which was widely expected to be announced in Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana's Medium-term Budget Speech this month.

The policy is reportedly being outlined in February.

Khaole said, “It's timing. It will happen. I don't envy the finance minister’s job right now in terms of juggling rands and cents across different verticals.”

One also did not have to be dependent on the public sector, he said.

“There's a ton of investment that is pouring in many markets, sometimes not looking at Africa. One of our biggest jobs is to change that perception,” he said.

Khaole said Uber had great products in Africa. It had launched at scale, thousands of electric bikes in Nairobi, Kenya and now in South Africa.

“I do believe that the private sector has a very big role to play as well. I don't think we need to fully depend on government. There's a ton of investment happening elsewhere. And this is a much more interesting opportunity for foreign direct investment to come here,” he added.

Before now and 2040 a lot of development would happen in the EV sector, he said.

“I believe every 18 months, we're going to see very big changes in terms of the types of vehicles that are coming through even in South Africa,“ he added.

This as Uber undertakes its first electric mobility product in the country with e-Package to launch in Cape Town in December. This marks a pioneering milestone for Uber becoming its first global initiative to transition its entire fleet to be fully electric by the end of 2023.

Johannesburg would be “live” with the e-Package offering in the first half of 2024 and the e-Package on Uber platform would provide an earnings opportunity for South Africans.

Khaole said alternative charging stations would be spread around Cape Town, covering a whole geofence.

“So what does that mean? It means that wherever you are able to go and request an Uber package, you are able to do that going forward in Cape Town.”

Khaole explained that Uber had partners setting up the infrastructure aspect of the charging stations. The partners had built a network that would enable growth and mobility.

He said the E-package on Uber platform would provide an earnings opportunity for South Africans.

Uber would offer training and get people customers to riding, delivery. Individuals could apply to Uber or their partners.

“Before the end of the year we will have 100 bikes per person. Looking forward we have plans to scale it up to 500 000 bikes. Again we will take a very conservative approach.

“In terms of the product that we’ve built, enterprises are going to start jumping in. If you use our Uber Business platform and now use e-Packaging to send your items, you get your reporting on sustainability and carbon credits as well. That reporting is already built into the platform.

“It’s how to train up to deliver a much more enterprise ready service. As a company you’ll now how many green kilometres you’ve done and your reductions have been,” Khaole said.

More products

Uber also announced the launch of Uber Store Pick-Ups, which would enable users to book a delivery person to collect any prepaid items from any store.

In addition, Uber is expanding Uber Van to Cape Town, its luxury rideshare offering Uber Black to Durban, and the addition of Reserve Airport Pickup for its UberX, Uber Comfort, and Uber XL rides.

Uber Live

Uber Eats yesterday also announced the launch of Uber Live, a mobile ordering solution. It connects a customer to mobile ordering solutions that are basically at hand such as whether one was in an airport, sport stadium, concert venue or music festival.

Nakampe Molewa, the general manager of Uber Eats Sub-Saharan Africa, explained, "We are committed to creating opportunities for consumers through technology. We are excited about the launch of Uber Live as we are able to take the food shopping experience to the next level for attendees at large events such as festivals, concerts or sporting celebrations, eliminating endless queues to allow our users to enjoy the event to the fullest.“