Kampala, Uganda | URN | Cabinet has approved the commercialization of KIIRA EV, an electric car developed out of an innovative research project by Students of Engineering at Makerere University.
The two-seater vehicle that runs on rechargeable lithium batteries instead of petrol was built at a cost of USD 35,000 (128 million Shillings) and tested on a 4 kilometre test-drive in 2011. Now Government is injecting over 120 billion Shillings in the innovation over the next four years, according to Information Minister, Frank Tumwebaze. About 24 billion Shillings of this will be allocated for the project, next financial year.
Its makers say that in motorway conditions, the Kiira EV can attain a speed of 100km/h and cover 80km (50 miles) before it needs recharging. It was developed with the aim of applying contemporary technologies to develop sustainable transportation solutions for Uganda.
Tumwebaze is optimistic that the project approved by cabinet yesterday will create over 2000 direct jobs and about 12,000 indirect jobs.
The commercialization, Tumwebaze said will catalyze investment by small and medium enterprises in the manufacturing of vehicle parts and hike demand for the utilization of natural resources such as steel from iron ore, plastics from oil and gas, among others. The project will also turn Ugandan into a continental leader in electric car manufacturing and research.
KIIRA EV started as a Makerere University students’ project. In 2008, Makerere engineering designed and built a five-passenger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Vision 200, which was exhibited in Torino Italy in 2008. This gave birth to Makerere University Centre for Research and Transport Technology in 2009 to champion research and development of eco-friendly transportation solutions for Uganda and Africa.
Under the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology, the students and their lecturers launched a two-seater electric car in 2011, naming it Kiira EV.
The government took over KIIRA EV project it 2014 through Uganda Development Corporation Limited (UDCL). On April 1, 2014, UDCL caused the incorporation of Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) with UDCL as the sole shareholder in KMC. On June 6, 2014, Kiira Motors Corporation with the concurrence of Uganda Development Corporation lodged with the registrar of trademarks an application for registration of Kiira EV as a trademark.
This caused protestation at Makerere University which also claimed ownership of the project. The university took the government to court; however, the two parties later resolved the dispute out of court. It was agreed that (UDCL) will take 96 percent and Makerere 4 percent of the project.