Uganda approves making own cars

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Government has come out offering a lifeline to what seemed to be a vanishing dream of local car manufacturing company, Kiira Motors Corporation.

Cabinet sitting this week at State House in Entebbe approved the Roadmap for the commercialization of the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project, which according to Information Minister Frank Tumwebaze, is to be undertaken in phases.

The cabinet accordingly, instructed Minister Tumwebaze, to “put in place the necessary institutional framework for the project.”

The development comes at a time when the project, which was born at Makerere University in back in 2014, seemed headed to demise, owing to lack of funding.

In 2016, the company announced that it was halting the process of commercial production of its famed solar powered bus “Kayoola,” due to unavailable funds.

Mr Paul Musasizi, the Company CEO said they would instead focus on production of regular diesel engine pickup trucks.

Musasizi said the company was unable to find the funds needed to enter this “uncontested market space, noting “it is not easy at this point, even before you set up a plant, to convince an international investor.

This week’s cabinet announcement is the most perceptible commitment by government to see this ambitious project through.

Minister Tumwebaze says the approved commercialization roadmap will be among others aimed at supporting local small and medium companies to manufacture vehicle parts that will be used by the company.

These locally manufactured components, he said, may include brake pads, seats, bolts, nuts, bumpers, vehicle electronics and navigation systems among others.

The plan will also support utilization of local national resources by the car manufacturer, such as steel from iron ore, plastics from oil and gas and lithium batteries from graphite.

The funding roadmap hopes to create more than 2000 jobs at the firm and 12000 more indirectly.

The move follows President Yoweri Museveni’s recent rekindled efforts to trim the country’s trade deficit, which has been aggravated by the increased importation of products such as used cars into the country.

It could also been deemed a response to the rapid growth of the automotive industry in neighbouring countries.

Last year French automaker Peugeot S.A. announced it would commence local assembly of its brands at Thika-based Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM), becoming the latest multinational to produce vehicles at the plant.

In Rwanda earlier this year, Germany’s Volkswagen AG said it would start assembling three vehicle models at a new plant in Kigali, starting next month in May, for local sale and use in its own new ride-sharing service.

Kiira Motors says it plans to set up and operate a vehicle assembly plant in Uganda. This will be designed with a Multiple Line and Multiple Model Assembly Shop for Pick-Up Trucks. Light and Medium Duty Trucks, SUVs and Buses.

The plant, they say, will operate in partnership with a seasoned auto manufacturer with a product foot print on all six continents.

 

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