Mercedes-Benz Citaro fuel-cell bus in service in Karlsruhe, Germany
Cape Town – The South African and German governments co-hosted a two-day workshop that focused on the Department of Trade and Industry's drive to create a viable fuel cell-powered bus manufacturing industry.

Themed: “Fuel Cell Bus - Unleashing Industrial Opportunities for South Africa through Zero Emissions Choice”, its purpose was to provide a platform where South Africa could learn from the German government about its successful rolling out of fuel cell-powered buses in its various cities.

Held on Monday and Tuesday at the SA Renewable Energy and Technology Centre in Bellville, chief director of primary mineral processing at DTI, Tapiwa Samanga, explained that different stakeholders had various objectives when it came to developing the fuel cells industry.

“The government is the convergence point of these diverse objectives and our role is to optimise the benefits.

“We want to explore opportunities brought about by the platinum group metals value-chain to create jobs, grow the economy and stimulate the beneficiation of our mineral resources.”

Prior to the workshop, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the South African government's efforts to develop a viable manufacturing industry would contribute to stimulating economic growth, creating jobs, generating export revenue and producing cleaner energy, was gaining traction.

Davies said the country's fuel cell strategy was to develop a globally competitive industry that would add value to the country's platinum resources, drive market growth and ensure long-term sustainability of the mining industry.

This would result in job creation, attract new investments, diversification of the current energy mix and socio-economic upliftment of the country’s people, added Davies.

He was hopeful that the workshop would lead to the introduction of fuel cell buses in major South African cities.

Samang said the government and the private sector would work together to leverage on the comparative advantage that the country had in regard to mineral resources such as platinum.

“The fact that our countries have good bilateral relations will stand us in good stead; we can work together in developing the South African fuel cell bus industry," said Samang.

"As the government, we are committed to supporting all the local players to participate in the fuel cell value chain experience, especially within our local technology developers.”

Samang also mentioned that fuel cell-powered buses presented an opportunity for South Africa to play a role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and improving quality of life.

Key stakeholders in the South African bus transportation industry – including metros, mining companies, bus manufacturers, as well as other government departments – attended the workshop.

Cape Argus