Uganda Won’t Produce Solar-Powered Buses Anytime Soon

By Kevin Mwanza Published: November 25, 2016, 7:57 am
Africa's rising automakersKayoola, first solar powered electric bus in Africa, made by Uganda's Kiira Motors. Photo: lj&

Kiira Motors Corporation, the Ugandan motor-vehicle manufacturer that produced Africa’s first ever solar-powered bus in February will not commercially produce similar buses for at least the next ten years, further pushing forward the  continent’s dream of producing eco-friendly cars.

The delay has been caused by lack of financial partners ready to support the Ugandan auto-maker venture into the market.

“It is not easy at this point, even before you set up a plant, to convince an international investor. In this case our business is not real estate so it’s not easy for us to get an investor before we can prove that we can at least get one vehicle off the assembly point,” Quartz Africa quoted Paul Musasizi, the automaker’s Chief Executive Officer.

The revelation is a major blow to the nation’s job creation efforts.

Kiira Motors Corporation hoped to employ more than 7,000 people, both directly and indirectly by 2018 in the commercial production of the bus popularly called Kayoola, BBC reported.

The prototype electric bus has a capacity of 35 passengers. The buses were set to cost $58,000 in the commercial market.

The state-owned manufacturer is however in the final stages of sealing a deal with two established car makers to set up a plant in East Africa’s second biggest economy.

Ashok Leyland and Mahindra & Mahindra Limited of India, which are among the leading truck manufacturers in the world had expressed interest in partnering with Kiira Motors Corporation, early this year.

It also plans to secure a $100 million, using the Ugandan government which is the majority shareholder at 94 percent, as the guarantor, Quartz Africa  reported.

The project, which started at Makerere University also produced the Kiira EV, a two-seater car in 2011 and the Kiira EV SMACK, a five-seater sedan in 2014.

The firm plans to produce pickups, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), sedans and trucks next year and hopes to hit 1,125 cars by 2021, Musasizi told Climate Action.

The Ugandan firm is leading the race in Africa’s efforts to produce eco-friendly vehicles, alongside South Africa and Nigeria, in efforts to fight industrial pollution that has led to adverse climatic conditions across the globe.

The vehicles do not emit the climate-damaging Carbon (IV) Oxide and Nitrogen oxide, presenting numerous advantages over the gasoline or diesel-powered motor engines.

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