Mining forum calls for probe into skills development body
GERMAN premium vehicle brand Audi is to launch a full electric vehicle in South Africa in 2019 and it believes there will probably be about another 10 full electric vehicles available in the domestic market from other vehicle brands.
Trevor Hill, head of Audi South Africa, said yesterday that the Audi full electric vehicle would be a sport utility vehicle (SUV) with anticipated sales of between 80 and 100 units a year in the beginning.
Hill said Audi saw a strong development in electric vehicles in South Africa in the next five to 10 years, but stressed the market would not move to 80 percent electric vehicles. “We will have combustion engine vehicles in South Africa for many years to come,” he said.
Hill said Audi planned to expand its full electric range after launching its first full electric vehicle model and had already set up an electrification project for e-tron, the trade name for Audi’s electric vehicles.
He said the key issue was to get high power charging stations installed in Audi’s dealer network, create separate storage areas for batteries and a separate service bay.
“There are physical things we need to do in the dealer network so as we build new dealers now we are already laying the high-power charging stations and building them into refurbishments.
“We are doing e-tron readiness for our company and our dealers,” he said.
However, Hill said not every Audi dealer in South Africa would initially be selling e-tron vehicles.
Hill said Audi’s sales and marketing of electric vehicles would initially be focused on certain pockets of the country, such as Sandton and Bryanston in Johannesburg; Constantia, Claremont and Bishopscourt in Cape Town; and uMhlanga and Ballito in Durban, because those were confined areas and the people who lived there had the wealth and means to buy these vehicles.
He said Audi South Africa had not defined these areas yet, but the focus would be on these kinds of areas in the beginning, because this would be where they believed they would have the best chance of success.
Hill said there were very few electric vehicles on South Africa’s roads at the moment and admitted that range was still an issue, because they could not, for instance, drive to Durban on a single charge.
However, Hill said the full electric vehicle Audi would be launching into the South African market had a current range of about 500km and it could be about 800km by the time they launched the model, because battery development was progressing “in leaps and bounds”.
Hill stressed the importance of legislation and policies to cater for electric vehicles and autonomous driving to prevent the country lagging.
He confirmed Audi was lobbying the government on these issues to ensure the South African market was prepared for what was coming in the future.
Hill said Norway’s vehicle market today was 80 percent electric vehicles, but three years ago between 50 percent and 60 percent of sales were combustion engine models.
“But the Norwegian government decided to change it quickly and they put incentives in place for electric cars, dropped the duties and gave electric cars preferential treatment to drive into cities.
“If you want to have electrification, that is good for the environment. But then there have to be benefits,” he said.
Hill admitted the South African government’s reliance on tax revenue from the fuel levy was a challenge. THE MINING Forum of South Africa (MFSA), a non-governmental organisation focused on monitoring compliance with social and labour plans of the mining industry, has called for a probe into the Mining Qualification Authority (MQA).
The forum alleged that the MQA, the body responsible for skills development programmes in the mining industry, was grappling with a crisis of leadership, management, and governance as well as a lack of capacity.
It said it had laid complaints that the roles of chief executive and chief operations officer were occupied in acting capacities and this created problems for the MQA.
MSA founder Blessings Ramoba charged that the MQA had not paid student bursaries nor graduates in mines.
“The only thing they (MQA) know is corruption and looting. We want them out – and to resign immediately. They cannot run the organisation,” said Ramoba. “We want the board to account in Parliament.”
The MFSA said it had written to MQA chairperson Mthokozisi Zondi for an overhaul of the executive and for the board to appoint a task team to take over the reins. Ramoba is scheduled to meet with the MQA board shortly.
The call follows an investigation by the MFSA into the MQA found that its skills systems structure was “currently ineffective and not working well”.
Among the list of failures at the MQA, the MFSA listed poor governance and leadership, poor management and delivery of bursary programmes, and irregular expenditure.
The MQA current skills development system was largely failing to address the skills needed by South Africa’s harsh economic climate.
The MQA is one of South Africa’s 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities.
However, the MQA chief executive, Tebogo Mmotla, said he welcomed the study by the forum of South Africa. However, he did not agree with the concerns at all.
“We have implemented skills programmes and portable skills in a number of communities in the country and they are working. There is no corruption, neither incompetent leadership nor lack of corporate governance at MQA, because the latter obtained an unqualified audit opinion from the auditor-general of South Africa,” Mmotla.
“The MQA board has proven to be very competent, because it is the same board which steered the MQA to achieving the unqualified audit report during the financial year 2016-2017. The auditor-general has further confirmed same during the audit and the evidence is in the annual report, 2016-2017, which is a public document. Our aim this year is to get a clean audit report from the auditor-general of South Africa,” he said.
Mineral Resources portfolio committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipho said this week that the committee would allow the MQA to deal with the matter.
Mining companies contribute 1 percent of payroll levies to skills development and 10.5 percent of this was utilised for administration expenditure within the MQA, according to the Chamber of Mines.
The 2018 Audi AG SQ5 sports utility vehicle on display at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Audi anticipates initial sales of between 80 and 100 units a year of its fully electric SUV in South Africa.