Local electric car maker, Kiira Motors Corporation, is now experimenting with a public transportation system, beginning with fully electric Kayoola EVS buses offering shuttle services to Civil Aviation Authority staff, in a program underwritten by government.
The Kayoola EVS buses have shuttled CAA staff for the last five months, strengthening the country’s car manufacturing credentials. The bus shuttles come after the Uganda National Bureau of Standards got the much needed World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) from International Society for Automotive Engineers (SEA).
The WMI certification means vehicles produced in Uganda can now be uniquely identified in the international market. That allows Uganda to export vehicles made in Uganda.
Government has also taken steps through the Ministries of Science Technology Innovation; Works and Transport led by Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye and Gen. Wamala Katumba, respectively - to institute the necessary protocols for defining the Vehicle Identification number (VIN) system for products that will be produced by Uganda’s motor vehicle industry.
But why has the production and deployment of Ugandan made fully electric buses for public use been a significant milestone in the year 2020, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
The answer is simple. The global motor vehicle industry is a multi-billion dollar industry accounting for an annual turnover of nearly $ 3 trillion or 3.7% of the world GDP from which Uganda should be a major beneficiary going forward.
The vehicle industry in Africa alone, (meaning vehicles sold on the African continent) stood at 1.2 million in 2017 and that number is projected to increase to 10 million units in the next nine years (that’s by 2030), according to the Africa Development Bank.
Already, there is a mad-rush by multinational vehicle manufacturers to set vehicle plants in Africa especially in Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda and South Africa.
This clearly shows that there are abundant opportunities for the Ugandan people if government takes a determined and deliberate policy to promote the growth of the domestic automotive industry, which is being championed by Kiira Motors.
In the Ugandan context, vehicle import volumes grew to over $450 million per annum between 2005-2017. During this same period, vehicles were the second highest valued imported goods after petroleum products. And the vehicle market size in the East African region grew from 158,000 in 2011 to 257,000 units sold in 2015 and is projected to reach a record 630,000 by 2030.
It is obvious that a vibrant motor vehicle industry is evidenced by the medium-term market projections in Uganda and the region where an estimated 34,500 buses, 20,000 pickups, 50,000 trucks, 125,000 SUVs and 175,000 tractors will be purchased to ease passenger mobility, cargo freight, utility and agricultural mechanization .