By Moses Sserwanga
The Uganda Cabinet has approved the commercialisation of the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project where government will invest Ugs.144billion in a phased approach , Minister of Science Technology and Innovation Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye has said.
While addressing the media in Kampala , Dr. Tumwesigye said that Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) will assemble vehicles including electric ones in partnership with reputable vehicle manufacturers . “This should progressively position the Kiira Vehicle plant for growth prospects in cutting-edge vehicle technology innovation ,” he stated.
Tumwesigye added: “ this landmark Cabinet decision builds upon the work started at Makerere University with support from the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology Innovation to champion value addition in the domestic automotive industry for job creation and diversification of the economy.”
The decision was informed by a comprehensive appraisal and approval of the feasibility study for setting up and operating the Kiira Vehicle Plant by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
During the four year start up phase, (2018/19-2021/22), the government will give Kiira shs. 143.7bn. The Kiira Vehicle Plant facility shall be set up at the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) Jinja industrial and Business park. The funding will also help Kiira Motors Corporation to enter into partnership agreements that will lead to the assemble of vehicles this year.
Cabinet also mandated the Ministry of Science a, Technology and innovation to provide policy guidelines and oversight for the implementation of the project . “This is an opportunity for us to realize our vision of making vehicles in Uganda. We are grateful to the president, cabinet, and government for trusting us. We want to encourage the private sector to start looking at investment opportunities in the automotive value chain,” says Paul Isaac Musasizi, the Kiira Motors CEO.
How Ugandans Will Benefit
As Uganda moves to put locally made cars on the market for the first time by end of this year ,,many Ugandans are wondering how they could benefit from a budding automotive industry when it finally takes off.
Automotive experts have intimated that cars just like any other locally manufactured products will have many components or parts that should ideally be sourced locally and therefore offer huge economic benefits to the local parts fabrication suppliers . At least on average , a car has over 30,000 parts by the time it leaves the production line and this will not be any different when Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC)’s much anticipated Vehicle Production Plant is set up in Jinja .
While major car makers the world over , source car parts from a broad range of global automotive suppliers overseas , in Uganda with the availability of abundant natural raw materials for car production , enterprising Ugandans should be prepared to cash in on the economic opportunities that will be created across the country’s nascent automotive industry .
This is because the country is endowed with a variety of rich minerals that are key to the successful implementation of the car manufacturing sector .Among the minerals that are abundant across the country include ,copper and cobalt deposits in the border district of Kasese, gold in the areas of Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri,Kanungu ,Busia , MubendeHoima and parts of West Nile ,Iron ore in Mityana and lead in Kamwenge .
Other raw materials needed for car manufacturing like lithium can be found in Kabale, Mukono, Mbale and Mubende; tin, zinc, kaolin , glass and sand are all locally available. The challenge will be how the government will facilitate the business minded Ugandans to benefit from these natural resources across the automotive value chain .
There is no doubt that promotion of local automotive value chain enterprises will be a very important government intervention that will lead to the creation of jobs and spread wealth among a wide section of the population which presently is unemployed . Car body builders, vehicle canopies for pick-ups, fiber glass components manufacturers , leather seats makers ,after sells car service providers like garages , fuel stations should all prepare to seize and benefit from the economic opportunities that will come with the development of the automotive sector .
Dr. Tumwesigye said that the assembly plant will initially employ 900 people but in the long run 2,000 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs will be created.
Vehicles Made in Uganda
KMC championing green mobility in Uganda and Africa
For the last 10 years , Kiira Motors Corporation has also been at the forefront of championing green mobility technologies in Uganda and on the African continent producing the first electric solar bus, the Kayoola Solar Bus in 2016 that won the company international accolades . KMC engineers led by Prof . Sandy Steven Tockodri the KMC Executive Chairman and Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi , the Chief Executive Office (CEO) , have also produced the Kiira Electric Vehicle (EV) SMACK hybrid in 2014 and the Kiira EV in 2011.