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In the run-up to the Global Power and Energy Exhibition, 17-20 September in Barcelona, GPEX News spoke with Chief Executive Officer of Kiira Motors Corporation and confirmed speaker for the 2018 GPEX Summit, Paul Isaac Musasizi, to discover more about Kiira Motors involvement in the African energy transition where the organisation sees itself in the next decade. 

GPEX News: How is Kiira Motors taking part in the African energy transition?

Paul Isaac Musasizi: Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), a brainchild of Makerere University, is supported through 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. Our work dates back to 2007 when a team of students and staff at Makerere University were invited to be part of an international consortium, the Vehicle Design Summit 2.0, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology initiative with the goal of developing the Vision 200 – a 5-passenger Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle targeting the Indian market.

Makerere University, the only participant from Africa, was responsible for the design and integration of the Low Power Electronics and Data Networking Systems. The Vision 200 was completed and displayed at the Dream Exposition, and the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile, Turin, from 22nd September until 24th November 2008.

In 2009, the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project was commissioned by Makerere University as a University research and innovation initiative for automotive development with a focus on green mobility technology. In 2012, Government of Uganda provided support to explore the Commercialisation of the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project. Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) was thus incorporated in 2014 as a company owned by Government and Makerere University.

Three Concept Vehicles have been designed and built:

  1. The Kiira EV (Launched by H.E. the President on 24th November 2011) is Africa’s first Electric Vehicle
  2. The Kiira EV SMACK (Unveiled at the Kenyatta International Conference Center Nairobi Kenya 14th November 2014) is Africa’s first plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
  3. The Kayoola Solar Bus (Launched by H.E. the President on 16th February 2016) is Africa’s first Solar Electric Bus.

The Kayoola Solar Bus was the headline exhibit at the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly Sustainable Innovation Expo 2016 at the United Nations Environment Programme Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya.

GPEX News: As mentioned, you developed the Kayoola solar bus, which is the first of its kind on the African continent. Can you tell us a bit more about this project, and what the plans are for the solar bus?

Paul Isaac Musasizi: The Kayoola Solar Bus is a 35-seater solar electric bus with zero tailpipe emissions, with latent range extension from the real-time onboard charging enabled by the roof-mounted solar panels. Through appropriate technological incubation and industrialization, the Kayoola Solar Bus provides an alternative locally sourced and eco-friendly public transport solution. The aspiration for green, clean, and noise free transport solution for Urban Mass Mobility enhancing Environmental Stewardship inspired the making of a solar-powered vehicle.

Studies have shown that the Uganda Vehicle Import Value has grown from US$ 190 Million in 2005 to US$ 550 Million in 2015 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 11.8% representing approximately 10% of the National Gross Import Value. It is noteworthy that the vehicle market size in the EAC has grown from 158,000 in 2011 to 257,000 in 2015 and is projected to reach over 500,000 by 2027. The consumerism perspective in the vehicle market not only undermines the prospects of domestic value addition but also contributes to the undesired growing trade deficit. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics noted that 45,560 vehicles were registered by Uganda Revenue Authority in 2014, 15% new, 85% used with an average age of 16 years at registration. The importation of end-of-life vehicle technology has resulted in low fuel efficiency and hazardous transport-based carbon emissions contributing to climate change. The economic costs of climate change in Africa could equal an annual loss in GDP of 1.5% - 3.0% by 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario due to noncompliance.

The Kiira Vehicle Plant will further position KMC in championing the progressive development of local capacity for sustainable market ready Vehicle Technology Innovation, especially for urban mass transportation.

GPEX News: What would you say are the key challenges to the transition to a low carbon energy system?

Paul Isaac Musasizi: In the context of Uganda, the two key challenges are: Transport-based carbon emissions policy gaps at a national level that have favoured the dominance of cheap end-of-life used vehicles and lack of infrastructure to support low carbon energy systems, especially for mobility.

GPEX News: Where do you see your business in the next 5-10 years?

Paul Isaac Musasizi: In 5 years, we should have a vehicle assembly plant in place running in partnership with a reputable OEM assembling over 1,900 vehicles per year and in 10 years’ time, that figure will have risen to over 3,200 vehicles per year. In 10 years’ time, we should have established the necessary environment for deployment of greener mobility technology, especially for urban mass transport. This will be achieved through close engagement with government to put in place the necessary policy interventions.

GPEX News: You will be speaking at the GPEX 2018 Summit this September, what do you expect the outcomes of the event to be?

Paul Isaac Musasizi: Participating as a speaker at the GPEX 2018 Summit presents opportunities for networking, development of synergies and representing Uganda as an emerging clean energy automotive hub. I look forward to engaging in the global dialogue on the move towards a more sustainable, low carbon and smart energy system and draw ideas that should position us as champions of the low carbon energy system agenda back in Uganda.

Paul Isaac Musasizi

Chief Executive Officer
Kiira Motors Corporation


The Global Power and Energy Exhibition, taking place in Barcelona on 17-20 September, will showcase the strategies and technologies needed to adapt to the global energy transition. Do not miss out and register now to join the global power and energy leaders.