UK gives SA R3.7m in funding to build skills for electric vehicle jobs

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The UK announced on Wednesday that it was providing R3.7 million in funding to South Africa to help the country develop the requisite skills for future jobs in the fast-growing electric vehicle sector.

"The new support will fund research to ensure South African students are developing the mostly highly sought-after skills in the electric vehicle sector, as well as new online training content and support for lecturers," the British High Commission said in a statement.

This comes on the heels of a visit by both COP26 president Alok Sharma and UK climate ambassador John Murton to SA this week for talks with Cabinet ministers about the climate finance deal, in which five developed economies pledged $8.5 billion to support the country’s energy transition.

SA previously said that funding would be directed towards Eskom for investment in the transmission grid, but it also wanted to secure funding for the transition of the auto manufacturing sector to electric vehicles and for the development of the production of green hydrogen.

Globally, to mitigate climate change, there is a drive to electrify vehicles to reduce emissions from transport - which is mainly powered by fossil fuels. Electric vehicle sales could reach 33% globally by 2028 and 54% by 2035, according to some estimates. 

However, in SA, where the move to electric vehicles has been slow, a recent study said load shedding, grid instability and a lack of electricity supply could thwart efforts.

British High Commissioner to South Africa, Antony Phillipson, said in a statement that the country was proud to be working with France, Germany, the US and the EU to deliver the transition plan.

"The UK is a long-standing partner in supporting South Africa’s climate ambitions, having invested over R4.8 billion (£250 million) in International Climate Finance in South Africa between 2011 and 2021. In recent years, UK firms have been responsible for 50% of investment in the fast growing renewable energy sector," he said

"This week we were delighted to announce even more UK-South Africa partnerships with new support for electric vehicle training, and research into green hydrogen skills – to ensure that South African workers and young people are the major beneficiaries of the country’s transition to a greener future."

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