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Uganda launches first Afro-Sino e-bus factory Uganda launches first Afro-Sino e-bus factory
Ugandan owned Kiira Motors, an electric bus startup with its roots in plug-in electric vehicle (EV) hybrids, is building Africa’s first e-bus factory, making... Uganda launches first Afro-Sino e-bus factory

Ugandan owned Kiira Motors, an electric bus startup with its roots in plug-in electric vehicle (EV) hybrids, is building Africa’s first e-bus factory, making use of Chinese battery technology.

The small bus company based outside the Ugandan capital, Kampala, is already negotiating several contracts for its newest offering, the Kayoola EVS.

The company’s origins lie in a small project by Makerere University in which students designed a five-seater hybrid as part of a global initiative by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The experience spurred the Makerere University team to build and develop more prototypes and eventually build a full, working EV.

The Kiira EV, the team’s brainchild and Africa’s first domestically built EV, rolled out of production in late 2011. The team has since built several more prototypes and has experimented with real-time, roof-mounted solar panels which charge buses on the go.

Two years ago, the team and Chinese bus manufacturer CHTC Motor Co, partnered and developed the Kayoola Bus. The bus is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack built and developed in China. The Ugandan government believes the rest of the bus, which is simple in design, can be produced locally, using domestically sourced materials for components such as the air filter, radio batteries, chassis and windows.

Ugandan metropoles like Kampala have some of the worst air quality ratings in Africa. The tightly congested streets are filled with small, single-cylinder motorcycles, 14-seater minibus taxis, and older, poorly maintained second-hand European cars, all contributing to Uganda’s air pollution.

Kiira motors hopes to open its first factory about 80km outside the capital by July next year. The company will have an initial operating capacity of around 5 000 buses a year. While the company is yet to formalise any contracts, it has confirmed it is in advanced negotiations with several clients.

Ugandan Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Elioda Tumwesigwe has said the Ugandan government’s will promote and sell the Kayoola EV bus outside the country, with the ultimate goal to rollout the bus across the continent.

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