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Electric vehicles too costly? Or means to help the poor?

By GIDEON TREURNICH, Strategic Business Development Manager: Transport and Planning in South Africa, at Royal HaskoningDHV

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The price of petrol is going up again, having increased by more than R2 per litre since January this year – and it’s  the poorest of the poor who are hit hardest by this increase. 

Sixty-nine percent of South African households use taxis, and many South Africans spend nearly half their income on taxi fares, with already-tight budgets being stretched closer to breaking point with every fuel price hike. 

The soaring fuel price is the most important reason to convert the taxi industry into one powered by electric vehicles (EVs), which are not nice-to-haves for the rich and eco-conscious, but are a practical solution that could make public transport more affordable for the poor, stimulate economic growth, and reduce our country’s environmental footprint.

Here’s why: 

  1. Electric vehicles are cheaper to run, with a full charge costing as little as 10% of what petrol costs. This means that, for the price of a single tank of petrol, you could charge the battery more than six times, driving for 200km per charge. 
  2. Battery electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain, because they have fewer moving parts. The current lifespan of an EV battery is around eight years – and this is likely to extend as technology develops. This means that vehicle owners spend less on maintenance, with this saving passed on to passengers.
  3. They’re an economic opportunity waiting to be exploited, as there’s currently no suitable EV minibus taxi on the roads yet. The time is ripe for the local design and development of an electric minibus taxi that responds directly to South Africa’s unique needs. Battery charging solutions are also an untapped market for energy entrepreneurs. 
  4. EVs don’t emit carbon monoxide, which means that they’ll contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and pollution, both of which affect poor communities the most. 
  5. EVs are safer because they have a lower centre of gravity than petrol vehicles, which makes them less likely to roll over in an accident, helping to reduce South Africa’s appalling road-death statistics. They also have internet-connected features, which reduces emergency response times. 

Electric vehicles are still subject to irrationally high import taxes, high battery prices and the phenomenon of ‘range anxiety’ – a fear that a vehicle has insufficient range to reach its destination and would leave passengers stranded.

However, as demand increases, prices of vehicles and batteries will decrease, the number of charging stations and solutions will increase, and Government will be compelled to lower import taxes.

The transition is inevitable, but we need to start planning now so that we don’t leave those who deserve better transport stranded.

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Showmax launches half-price mobile streaming service

A new streaming product designed specifically for Africa, featuring TV series as well as African content and live sport, is aimed at filling the gap in subscription video on demand services

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The subscription video on demand (SVoD) model, which originated in the USA, spread rapidly in countries where uncapped broadband is affordable and widely available. However, because the model also relies on consumers being comfortable with transacting online and having ready access to credit cards, it has barely scratched the surface across Africa.

On top of that, smartphones are often the only only form of Internet access across Africa, and none of the popular SVoD services have been designed for the format.

Showmax says it plans to change this with the launch of a new mobile plan that costs 50% of the standard Showmax package but still features 100% of the same video content. Showmax is set apart by a combination of four pillars: hit African content, exclusive international series, topkids’ shows, and live sport, including weekly matches from the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga.

Showmax says the new plan is aimed at consumers who only use smartphones and tablets to watch video content. Video resolution peaks at standard definition to help reduce data consumption. As it is a product aimed at individuals, only one concurrent stream is included in the plan. As with the regular service, it is also available for a 14-day free trial.

“This is all about an African service developing a solution that meets the needs of African consumers,” saus Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. “Customer feedback consistently points to local content and sport as some of the things that people value most from Showmax. That’s of course on top of the international series, movies, and kids’ shows that are our bread and butter. With all of that content now available in a product designed specifically for mobile usage, we’re doing something no other service can offer.

“On top of that, with groundbreaking deals like our new offer with Vodacom in South Africa, we solve the credit card issue through add-to-bill payment and the data issue by including data directly in the package. We’re looking to launch similar offers in Kenya and Nigeria soon.”

Both the standard and mobile plans include live sport, sport magazine shows and sport documentaries. The 2019 Rugby World Cup Final was streamed live on Showmax earlier this month, and the following is a selection of some of the football due to be live-streamed in November:

22 November: Levante vs Mallorca (La Liga)

23 November: Arsenal vs Southampton (Premier League)

24 November: Bologna vs Parma (Serie A)

25 November: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United (Premier League)

29 November: Celta Vigo vs Valladolid (La Liga)

30 November: Fiorentina vs Lecce (Serie A)

30 November: Chelsea vs West Ham United (Premier League)

Showmax’s mobile plan is currently available in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. 

Comparison of Showmax plans:

Mobile Standard
Price per monthR49 / N1450 / KSh 375R99 / N2900 / KSh 750
Watch on smartphone or tabletYesYes
Watch on smart TV and computerNoYes
HD streamingNoYes
TV series, movies, kids’ showsYesYes
SportYesYes
Concurrent streams12
Cancel anytimeYesYes
14-day free trialYesYes
Chromecast and AirPlayNoYes
Number of devicesOne registered device5 devices can be registered, with 2 able to stream at the same time

For a 14-day free trial, visit www.showmax.com

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Online series wins SA’s Journalist of the Year award

A series of stories on gang warfare in Hanover Park earned Tammy Petersen of News24 the ultimate prize in South African journalism. Here are all the winners of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards.

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At the 18th edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards held at Vodacom World earlier tonight, News24’s Tammy Petersen took top honours and the R100,000 grand prize as national winner for her body of work on a gang war series entitled When you live in Hanover Park, you know death. Petersen’s submission was one of over 1,000 entries received from around the country across 12 categories – Investigative, Opinion, Lifestyle, Photography, Sport, Economics, Politics, CSI, Live reporting/ breaking news, Data Journalism, Multi-platform and the Young Journalist of the Year Award. This year’s theme – Connect the Dots – pays tribute to the best-of-the-best of those entries.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at Vodacom Group says: “This year has seen extraordinary entries to the 18th Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards. Not all the stories that are national winners were about huge events but also showed the importance of telling the stories of ordinary people. In line with our theme, the dots were indeed connected, and we congratulate all the winners.”

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The quality of entries has convinced the judges once again that our industry is in good hands, as far as journalism is concerned, despite the many problems that have beset the industry in recent times. Judging from the entries, South African journalists are determined to fly the flag high for a free, independent, and vigorous media, which augurs well for our democracy. As judges, we can only salute all the entrants for the great work that they submitted. In the end, our industry is probably the biggest winner.”

Judges for this year’s awards are: Ryland Fisher (convenor), Jermaine Craig, Arthur Goldstuck, Albe Grobbelaar, Franz Kruger, Patricia McCracken, Mapi Mhlangu, Collin Nxumalo, Mary Papayya, and Obed Zilwa.

Visit the next page for the full list of winners and their citations.

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