The first solar powered bus in Africa was officially launched earlier this month in Kampala, Uganda. The 35-seater bus, known as the "Kayoola Solar Bus” was manufactured by Kiira Motors Corporation.
Presiding over the launch, President Yoweri Museveni said “this is the best way to go with clean energy much as we earn income from other sources of energy”. “The people who are saying Uganda's Education has gone down are just joking, look at all the innovations,” the president added.
President Museveni pledged government support for innovations and scientists. “We are going to provide sh500 billion for Innovation, to support such projects”, he added.
When fully charged, the bus’s batteries have a range of 80kms. A rack of solar panels attached on its rooftop harvest solar energy that is used to charge the other batteries, enabling a range extension of 12kms.
According to Paul Isaac Musasizi, it takes one hour to fully charge each battery. This makes the vehicle suitable for "all sorts of duties in the cities". Paul Isaac Musasizi is the chief executive officer of Kiira Motors.
The Kayoola solar bus prototype costs $140,000 to produce, but it is expected to cost a significantly lower price tag of $45,000 if mass-produced.
Kiira Motors project is an industrial development supported through the Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology. It expects to attract investors interested in green energy for funding and future staff training. KMC is owned by the government of Uganda through Uganda Development Corporation, and Makerere University, where the project was incubated by students from College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology.
Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, one of the founders of the project, and now the country’s Minister of State for Higher Education, Science and Technology said that, “the development of Kayoola Solar Bus represents our commitment to championing the progressive development of local capacity for vehicle technology innovation, a key ingredient for institutionalizing a sustainable vehicle manufacturing industry in Uganda”.
He added that come 2018, Uganda will be able to roll out its automobiles on the world market. The initial plans are to produce 50 buses a year. By 2039, the company will be able to manufacture all the parts and assemble the vehicles in Uganda.
The project aims at establishing vehicle manufacturing capabilities in Uganda for Pickups, SUVs, Sedans, Light and Medium Duty Trucks, and Buses.
The KMC manufacturing plant will be constructed on a 100-acre piece of land acquired at the Uganda Investment Authority’s business park in Kakira town council in Jinja.
"No other countries manufacturing vehicles are on the equator like Uganda. We should celebrate that, and make a business out of it." Added Musasizi. "By launching the bus, we are saying Uganda now has the potential to add value in the world, especially within electric technology."
The concept represents the next generation of public transport for cities within East and Central Africa.
KMC has so far developed 2 other vehicle concepts; the two-seater Kiira EV which is commonly known as the “Green Car” launched in 2011, and the Kiira EV SMACK Hybrid Electric Vehicle that was launched in 2014.