Household budgets and operating costs for businesses in Uganda are expected to remain high following the government’s refusal to provide tax rebates on fuel, adding uncertainty to the country’s economic recovery. Already, truckers, hotels that use bulk liquefied petroleum gas and the construction industry that depends on heavy machinery are feeling the heat of high fuel costs.
Many hoped that during the President’s State of the Nation Address, a solution to these escalating prices would be provided. Instead the President had a better idea that would then seem far fetched to Ugandans who were listening in. To solve the escalating prices, he (President) suggested that Uganda would start making electric cars that would no longer require fuel but charging points to keep them working.
The president noted that Uganda needs Shs20 Billion to develop more affordable electric automotives while crisis after crisis has also awakened the government to breathe new life in Uganda’s long-dead railway networks.
A hybrid 5-seater Ugandan made Kiira Electric Vehicle (EV) costs over Shs100 Million in a country whose GDP per capita just hit $1,046 at the start of FY 2022/23, government data shows. One of the designers of the Kiira EVs, Paul Musasizi, told him that –for instance- an electric bus uses Shs360 per km which is almost five times cheaper than a similar fossil fuel bus (using Shs1, 600 per km).
Africa's first electric vehicle was developed under the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project in 2011. KMC developed Africa's first hybrid vehicle, the Kiira EVS, in 2014 and Africa's first solar electric bus, the Kayoola Solar Bus in 2016. KMC's market entry products are the Kayoola EVS, a Fully Electric Low Floor City Bus with a range of 300 kilometers on a full charge and the Kayoola Coach, a premium highway coach available in both electric and diesel powertrains.
The Kayoola EVS is the market-entry product of Kiira Motors Corporation. The Kayoola EVS is a Fully Electric, Low Floor City Bus specifically designed for Urban Mass Transportation. At full charge, the Kayoola EVS has a range of up to 300 kilometers making it capable of handling the daily duty cycle. With a sitting capacity of up to 90 passengers. The Kayoola EVS buses were used to offer Airport Transfer Services between Entebbe International Airport and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort for delegates during the EU-Uganda Business Forum in March 2020.
The state-owned vehicle manufacturer Kiira Motors planned to start production of electric vehicles in Uganda in July 2021. The plant that is still under construction in Jinja shall make 5,000 electric buses and other EVs per year. Uganda is not as much of a stranger to vehicle production as it may seem. VW is already assembling EVs in Kigali, the capital of neighboring Rwanda and is mobilizing pilots there as reported.
Kiira reasons that the global market for e-buses has grown from about 100,000 units in 2016 to 500,000 in 2019 with Chinese manufacturers serving most of the demand. This is to change, even if the company relies on China’s CHTC to upscale production as mentioned before. The long-term goal by Kiira Motors and their EVs made in Uganda is to reduce air pollution in Kampala, which counts among the most polluted cities in the world, and other major cities in the East African country.