Uganda is at the forefront of African innovation with support for electric vehicles

The Ugandan government has given Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) the go ahead on its plan to commercially produce the electric vehicles. The East African country is working on the project through KMC, a partnership between the government and Makerere University in the capital, Kampala.

The Ugandan cabinet in a statement noted that the KMC electric vehicles project is not only at the forefront of African innovation in the industry, but also aims to spur “investment by businesses in the manufacture of vehicle parts, increase demand for natural resources and create more than 2,000 direct jobs.”

KMC designed Africa’s first electric car and its first hybrid car in 2011 and 2014 respectively. Two years later, according to the company’s website, the government-owned company manufactured Africa’s first solar bus.

With these achievements emanating from one of the world’s poorest countries, it has not been without its skeptics and critics as questions have been raised about priorities, viability and the possibility of prestige projects that have little impact on the lives of the majority.

When Kiira Motors Corporation unveiled the electric car concept, it was met with opposition from all over the world especially in Europe and Asia. And most people in the automobile industry couldn’t envision the possibility of it working out.

However, in an interview with Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Paul Isaac Musasizi, KMC’s chief executive officer said the electric cars have been built as Uganda’s first solar energy car with a belief that electric public mobility technology will not only foster growth but be a solution to the increasing rate of pollution resulting from the import of third-rate cars from developed countries.

Eighty five per cent of cars in Uganda are over 15 years old. Therefore, these end-of-life automobiles contribute to the decline in national fuel efficiency.

With the import value of vehicles and vehicle parts rising from $89.7m in 2000 to $550m in 2015, Musasizi noted that the industry requires key reforms aimed at cultivating domestic value addition and strategic focus on green mobility, especially for urban mass transportation.