Amidst the galloping fuel prices, His Excellency President Museveni took to national TV on Wednesday, 27th 2022  to push for electric cars and railways as a long term solution to crude oil supply shocks.

“This is the answer. The correct way is to start moving away from petrol to electric cars and we have already started,” 

President Museveni said, rejecting fuel subsidies that are suggested in some quarters to lower costs.

Currently Diesel in Kampala is going for over Ush6,500 ($1.72) per litre, while petrol is about Ush7,000 ($1.85).

President Museveni sees the solution in the locally made fully electric car Kiira EV and the passenger service bus Kayoola EV.

“This pressure is to spend the little money we have on problems. We would rather use it to get out of problems permanently. The long term solution is the electric car and trains,” he said.

“Electric vehicles are cleaner; don’t have pollution, are cheaper and have less maintenance costs.”

States HE Museveni

Museveni said the KMC boss told him that an electric bus uses Shs360 per km which is almost five times cheaper than a similar fossil fuel bus which uses Shs1, 600 per km.

“Electric vehicles are cheaper, cleaner, have no pollution and apparently have less maintenance cost,”

he observed.

Electric mobility is expanding at a rapid pace globally, with the total electric car fleet exceeding 5.1 million last year (2018), compared with 3.1 million in 2017. Car owners have a choice of between a full electric vehicle, a hybrid car (both electric and fuel-fired), or a normal fuel car.

But globally, attention is shifting towards vehicles with zero and low carbon emissions as part of measures to facilitate transition to a global clean energy economy.

According to the East Africa Paper of November 30th 2019, Uganda and Rwanda were racing ahead of their East African neighbors in the global switch to electric motoring, even as infrastructure shortcomings limit investments in the emerging sector.

Both Kampala and Kigali unveiled electric vehicle assembly plants in the past two months (July 2019), blazing the regional trail with Kenya and Tanzania only making baby steps toward embracing the new technology.

Uganda’s state-owned Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) has so far shown the biggest ambition in the region by building two battery-powered cars and a solar electric bus.

The electric bus, called the Kayoola Electric Vehicle Series (EVS), has been built using Kiira Motors home-grown green mobility technologies while partnering with Chinese Equipment Manufacturer, Motor Co. Ltd.

The buses can cover a distance of 300km under a single charge and have a capacity of 90 passengers (49 sitting and 41 standing), compared with the diesel engine ones which have a capacity of 65 passengers.

However, its turn-around time has become the leading factor in its lagging behind the competition. Although the corporation first announced that it would start manufacturing 5,000 vehicles yearly in 2019, to date it has only produced prototypes.

In 2019, Kiira Motors announced that it would be supplying electric commuter buses to Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) in December.

“The project is in line with KCCA’s Multimodal Urban Transport Master Plan 2018/2040 designed to guide the development of a sustainable transport system in Kampala,”

said KMC Chief Executive Officer, Paul Isaac Musasizi, at the time.

KCCA  announced that it would begin piloting its public transportation system in Kampala using two Kiira Motors Corporation electric buses under a project underwritten by a Chinese technology partner.

The plan was for 100 Eco-buses to initially cover a 16-km radius around the city to be increased to 500 eco-buses covering the entire Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area. There would be dedicated lanes covering the ring road from the Constitutional Square-Nakawa-Ntinda via Stretcher Road-Bukoto-Mulago-Wandegeya and back to the Constitutional Square.

By 2018, Uganda had committed nearly Ush24 billion ($6.4 million) to put the first fully home-made car on the road. The amount is part of a planned Ush 145 billion ($39 million) spending over four years, 2018 to 2022.

Civil contractor National Enterprise Corporation is putting the final touches to the assembly facility in Jinja. Shipments of tooling for both the manufacturing facility and final assembly lines is expected to arrive in November.

The Finance ministry released Ush 159 billion ($42 million) to KMC mid-May, completing the government’s Ush218 billion ($58 million) financial commitment.

“Now that we have the resources, we are running at full throttle to catch up on lost time. All contractors are engaged and active on site and expect series production to start next June,

 said chief executive Paul Isaac Musasizi.

Construction is underway on the core manufacturing facility and the 30,000 square metre quality certification and testing facility.

The production plant in Jinja is 85 percent complete and commercial production is expected to start in January 2022, with an initial target of 5,000 vehicles a year.

East Africa’s uptake of electrical vehicles however remains extremely low compared to global leaders, according to Global EV Outlook report 2019.

Lack of investment in charging infrastructure and absence of fiscal incentives such as subsidies and rebates on vehicle acquisition taxes, and lower toll or parking fees are to blame, the report launched by the International Energy Agency states.

Meanwhile, Kenya has seen the most growth in the use of electric vehicles for private and public transport. Electric cars on Kenyan roads include private-owned Teslas and ride-hailing operators, including cars and motorbikes.

The mass adoption of electric vehicles (EV) is, however, likely to be hampered by the high entry price to the segment. The EV variants of most cars are way more expensive.

With a nod to saving the environment, Electric cars (e-cars) are a carbon-monoxide free technology that are reliable and comfortable vehicles solely depending on solar panels to reel its engine. Experts say the e-car reduces maintenance costs, and it doesn’t use fuel, as it is 100% ecologically charged thanks to solar panels.

You can listen to this space on Is Electricity powered transport viable in Uganda below:

Wizarts Spaces are hosted on Thursday every week by Wizarts Foundation: a non-profit media NGO with the Vision and Mission to transform media and impact communities by opening windows of knowledge.

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