Department Cuts Funds for ‘Africa’s Electric Car’


Johannesburg — THE Joule electric car project would receive its last payment from the Department of Science and Technology next month, following a substantial budget cut, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said yesterday.
The government made a commitment to develop green technology as part of the second industrial policy action plan.
The Joule is touted as Africa’s first car that emits no carbon.
Kobus Meiring, CEO of Optimal Energy, which is developing the Joule, said future sources of funding were unknown.

Ms Pandor told Parliament that the Department of Trade and Industry would now be responsible for development of the car.
She said that “R23m will be the last payment” her department and the Technology Innovation Agency would make. “Already a total of R9,5m was paid and the remaining R13,5m is to be transferred by the end of August ,” she said.
The Industrial Development Corporation had also invested in the development of the car.
Mr Meiring said: “While the Department of Trade and Industry will take over the responsibility for the funding, there is little clarity as to how and under which body the funding will be rolled out.
“We are not looking forward to the handing over of the project to the department – this will no doubt be a long and drawn-out process, delaying the roll-out of critical funds,” Mr Meiring said.

The Joule is to be manufactured in the East London industrial development zone in terms of a memorandum Optimal Energy signed with the city. Mr Meiring said commercial production would start in 2013 and Optimal Energy hoped it would reach 50000 units a year by 2015.
Meanwhile, Ms Pandor’s budget cuts would reduce funding to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research by about R38m, and to the National Research Foundation by about R120m.
Guidelines had been supplied to the two entities “about where and how the budget cut should be applied”, Ms Pandor said.
They were also advised to re-prioritise their budget allocation to ensure continuity in existing activities and that objectives and targets would be met.

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