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Makerere’s electric car: A lie or a promise?

By Dr Robert K. Rutaagi

KEV could be Uganda’s wondrous opportunity

Veteran novelist and socio-political commentator, Alan Tacca’s article, Makerere’s electric car: Has Mu­seveni been duped? (Sunday Monitor, Nov. 13) seemed to have poured cold water onto the budding project. Before that, in the Sunday Monitor of Nov.6, cel­ebrated and cerebral Timothy Kalyegira discussed and gave interesting views about the same subject.

I am usually Tacca’s column fan- wheth­er he writes saintly or sinner-fully. Alan, please do not revoke my ‘fan-permit’ for what I am about to share with you and the readers.

First – I share your articulation and sentiments about those Kiira EV’s ‘sec­ondhandnesses’, based on secondhand information imbedded in expatriate pro­fessors’ notes and all those imported foreign books and gadgetry [read: spare parts). But Alan, that is what R&D is all about, so relax and restrain from being derogatory. Remembers, most of your respectable talents, too, may be imported, but you have many fans like me and all columnists who are paid handsomely.


Haven’t you heard about Uganda Baati, Roofings, Vitafoam, Uganda Batteries, Ship Tooth Brush, Mukwano Industries; all respectable manufacturers of good products, up to 98% of whose raw materi­als are all imported- including packaging materials? And don’t they get enormous funding from commercial banks, Uganda Development Bank, East African Devel­opment Bank, Bank of Uganda, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, International Development Association, etc?

Secondly, your allusion to President Museveni’s ‘expiry date’ and his driv­ers, as ‘demons’ and him and others as ‘immortal’ beings, is being derogatory to a leader, even if you may not be his sup­porter [in case you are not and you don’t have to be]. The Bible says that leaders are chosen by God to serve Him and, there­fore, they need to be respected [Hebrews 13:17].

Third – you seem to insinuate some contempt for the KEV Project with dis­missive skepticism and hopelessness. I urge you to know that in R&D, nothing is contemptible. The whole law of gravity around which many discoveries revolve, came from a man (Isaac Newton) who was slumbering under a tree. Do not worry about ‘Katwe-like’ tools, crude­ness or uncreative efforts. Something great can come out to vindicate Musev­eni’s support for KEV Project handlers. Before Museveni plunged into the Luwe­ro bushes, in 1986, with only 27 souls and 26 imported AK47 guns, if he had consulted you and others who think like you, you would have, probably, written an excellent article in your imported Eng­lish [like KEV spare parts are] advising him that his Luwero NRA/M Project was socially undesirable, politically danger­ous and economically unfeasible, prob­ably, because, interalia, he was relying on imported AK47. What happened after only five years? State power and all that go with it until now, and I do not know when the five-year renewable project will end. Political R & D is still going on. Your and other columnists’ articles, the print and electronic media, W2W initiatives, all opposition inputs, much like the Kiira EV Inputs, are essential ingredients of R&D. Therefore, my brother, relax.

Fourth – the tone, content and essence of your article seem to be inspired by your perception (through lenses of a novelist and socio- political commentator) of glo­balisation about which we may share a lot. As a management practitioner (retired after 32 years), now consultant and train­er, my perception of globalisation is sym­pathetic with yours, in, especially, rela­tion to the Makerere Kiira Electric Car. Let me explain.

One great risk that globalisation engen­ders, which is shared by the MBA &MSC Students whom I train, is the inequitable distribution of resources (globally) with a tendency to make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. Under globalisation, production, (like the case of KEV), will be (in fact, has already been) totally surren­dered to the Developed and Newly Indus­trialised Countries (NICs) to produce, en masse (based on enormous economies of scale) as much as they can market in the Global Village Market (GVM) using the best science and technologies they have, at the lowest possible cost and market them (goods and services) as liberally and as competitively as nobody else can from the Developing World which (like Uganda) is totally disadvantaged. Para­doxically and ironically, the Developing World consumer has the least purchas­ing power and propensity to spend, leave alone, competitive power; after all its comparative advantage as been system­atically eroded by the Developed World’s superlative competitive advantage devel­oped after epochs of intensive R&D.

Fifth – Your statement: “The media… public disservice by not asking enough of such question…” Why are you blaming yourself? You and Timothy are already asking pertinent questions through the media to which both of you belong. Ask more questions and the MKEV Research­ers will notice and, hopefully, improve their thing.

Finally- thank you for the creative articles. Reading between and beyond the lines, your contribution to Kiira EV Project may be analogous to the Foot-ball fans’ comments I once heard when KCC was playing with the Kenyan Harambee Team. One hilarious cheerer shouted “Gwe Kasasiro, ori musilu wa ngeri ki… kuba gooro!” (You Striker, how foolish are you, strike!)”. And within seconds the winning goal was scored by the same `foolish striker’. Euphoria of victory ensued. Likewise, KEV could be Ugan­da’s wondrous opportunity, coinciding with oil and gas discovery to engender a paradigm shift that will catapult us from the third to the first World.

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