• It is exactly two weeks to the launch of Africa’s first ever solar-powered bus ‘Kayoola’ manufactured by Kiira Motors Corporation in Uganda.

    The Kayoola -loosely translated as mass carrier/transit- bus concept is set to provide public transport for cities within the region. The next generation solar bus relies on 2 power banks (lithium-ion batteries) to power an electric motor that is coupled to a 2-speed pneumatic shift transmission.

    The two batteries are installed on either side of the bus which enables the use of one battery pack at a time while the other pack is being charged. The charging process is involuntary implemented by an Automatic Changeover Switch that is controlled by the Vehicle Control Unit.

    The 35-seater has a power capacity of 150KW (204HP) Peak and solar power of 1320W. Solar panels are fitted on the roof which harvest energy used to run the bus on a range of 80 kilometers. At this speed, the bus can operate 8 hours of nonstop movement.

    “The Kayoola bus will be easier to maintain, in terms of not having to change oil as is done in the diesel-powered buses and not having to repair hydraulic lines that run through a conventional bus. The bus is expected to run 80km, or virtually a full operational day (for example Kampala – Entebbe – Kampala), between recharges,” part of a document by KMC reads.  

    The birth of the Idea

    Kayoola project started at Makerere University when Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa headed the then Vehicle Design Project, in the former faculty of Engineering. Prof Tickodri-Togboa currently the minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, noted that the idea was birthed when Makerere University students and staff participated in Vehicle Design Summit in the United States, hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in 2007.

    Now an innovation program from a humble idea, the project is set to address some of Uganda’s transport challenges.  

    Providing leisure and comfort

    According to KMC’s information on Kayoola, the bus will come with inbuilt Wi-Fi network.

    “The Kayoola brings high speed internet to your smartphone, tablet or computer. Enjoy the limitless world of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Email everywhere. Allowing you to stay connected with friends, family and business on the go.”

    The bus is semi-Deluxe designed for higher comfort levels with provision for ergonomically designed seats.

    “The bucket-shaped, soft-touch leather seats exhibit clean and crisp lines which are seamlessly integrated into the surfaces to depict a waterfall; the source of inspiration.”

    Fully funded by the Government of Uganda, Kiira Motors is an industrial development intervention aimed at placing Uganda in a space where it can manufacture vehicles ranging from SUVs, Sedans, Pickups, light and medium duty trucks and Buses. KMC has already produced two concept vehicles, Kiira EV (two seater) and Kiira Smack (sedan).

    President Yoweri Museveni will officially unveil the Kayoola solar bus on February 16 at Kampala Serena Hotel.