Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, says South Africa is somewhere between being pioneers in information technology-based mobility disruption and being late responders and adopters.
Delivering the opening address at the 38TH Southern African Transport Conference in Pretoria, the minister his department will use advanced digital technologies to enhance law enforcement and compliance on SA’s roads.
He said the government needed to recognised that technology was transforming the transport sector with incomprehensible speed and scale.
“We can do whatever … but technology must be upgraded in order to be in a position to bring about innovative ways of law enforcement on the roads and holding people accountable,” he said.
Mbalula called on the government to come up with new policies and laws that will render new technologies in the transport sector beneficial to all, while also addressing the contentious climate change issue.
The government was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the department’s green transport strategy, which outlines efforts to contribute towards a 5% reduction of emissions in the transport sector by 2050, he said.
Mbalula said e-hailing services such as Uber and Bolt (formerly Taxify), Google Maps, and data intelligence were already disrupting the industry.
He said the next wave of digital technology has the potential to “further transform access [to public transport] and mobility services to make them seamless and efficient”.
“Digital technologies are becoming more sophisticated as well as integrated. Major breakthroughs are being realised in advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, etc,” said Mbalula.
“The pace of breakthroughs in the industry is unprecedented. My concern is we must not be relegated to catch up, we must be part of the innovators,” said Mbalula..
He called on both the public and private sectors to prioritise funding for research and developmental in the sector.