Change the world


National key role-players in South Africa’s electromobility sector will descend on Nelson Mandela University this week, in celebration of 10 years of the uYilo e-Mobility Programme, hosted within the institutional engagement entity, eNtsa.

Since its inception in March 2013, the uYilo e-Mobility Programme has been dedicated to the promotion, facilitation and empowerment of e-mobility in the country.

It was established by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) under the directive of the Department of Science and Innovation (formerly Department of Science and Technology). eNtsa resides in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Technology (EBET), and has a corporate satellite office in Johannesburg.

As a national multi-stakeholder programme, uYilo has played a pivotal role in spearheading the transition towards electric mobility countrywide.

Head of Natural Resources and Energy at TIA, Daya Naidoo, congratulated the uYilo management, staff, and stakeholders over the past decade.

“Investing in uYilo was an ambitious forward-thinking undertaking which has paid off for all parties involved,” he said.  

Naidoo added that the latest independent economic assessment conducted for uYilo showed that the programme generated more than three times the TIA grant value received, and contributed to the creation of 110 job opportunities, including the training and upskilling of internship candidates.

“As a national programme, uYilo has made significant contributions, from enterprise and skills development to wider market-enabling initiatives on policies, regulations, and standards in reducing market barriers for technology uptake.”

“This aligns with the strategic approach of leveraging partnerships and collaborations that has seen TIA invest in more than just specific projects but make an impact in economic value chains and ecosystems.”

“The energy and e-Mobility landscape has changed significantly in the past ten years, and we are proud to have made an investment into the ecosystem, infrastructure and skills development that will see South Africa compete on an equal footing with similar economies,” he said.

“E-mobility represents an important core pillar of the Just Energy Transition. Through continued investments in uYilo, TIA is committed to supporting the growth of this industry, working with all key partners in the NSI.”

uYilo actively fosters connections and cultivates relationships within the e-Mobility and related industries in South Africa, with the primary focus to promote robust growth by leveraging local minerals and resources and generating employment opportunities within this dynamic sector.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology, Professor Marshall Sheldon, said the programme aligned with the faculty’s strategic focus area of sustainable environments and infrastructure.

“This e-mobility programme has fostered innovation and sparked change within the South African national context. The future of e-Mobility is promising, with the global shift towards sustainable transportation and continues to evolve rapidly,” she said.

“As we celebrate a decade of the uYilo e-Mobility Programme,we will continue to work collectively, by embracing the power of change, developing skills, creating innovation, unlocking further possibilities, and through engaging all stakeholders continue to create a more sustainable future with positive impact on society for generations to come.”

Edem Foli, Acting Director of uYilo, reflected on the significant changes and progress made over the past decade.

“That first years' efforts were focused on setting up the facilities and infrastructure, to create an environment for e-Mobility-related testing and demonstration.

A year later we officially opened our battery testing laboratory and launched the kick start fund to stimulate research and promote the commercialisation of local e-Mobility projects,” Edem said.

That kick start fund project - which now offers up to R1 million in grant funding - has assisted the growth of local organisations such as Microcare, Mellowcabs and Mellowvans, Golden Arrow Bus Services and GridCars. These companies are involved in transport, delivery and charging industries in South Africa.

The battery laboratory is nationally accredited and provides comprehensive testing services for lead-acid and lithium technologies. There is also a materials characterisation service providing for rigorous quality control in the production process. 

In 2015 uYilo was responsible for the first solar EV charge station at Shamwari Game Reserve, the same year the EV Live-Testing Environment (LTE) was created at the facility. This was followed by an e-Bike sharing pilot project for the University’s North and South campuses.

In 2018, uYilo received the Nelson Mandela University Research Teaching and Engagement Award for the Smart-Grid Project and the programme was profiled as a Strategic Initiative (Strategic Pillar 8, promotion of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles) within the Department of Transport’s Green Transport Strategy (2018-2050).

“uYilo also converted also two Tuk-Tuks for the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) in 2019, to showcase e-Mobility,” says Foli. “In 2021 we were confirmed as an implementation partner on sustainable transport in the South Africa-UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions) Country Programme and a Local Living Lab for Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA) EU project.”

“That year we also received Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) funding to establish a safety testing laboratory for lithium-ion batteries.”

"Last year uYilo started a three-year e-Mobility Skills and Enterprise Development Project in collaboration with the Automotive Industry Development Centre Eastern Cape (AIDC EC), alongside eNtsa and Mandela University” Edem concluded.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777