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BY Moses Sserwanga

The Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has stressed the critical role Kiira Motors Corporation and the nascent automotive industry will play to reduce Uganda’s import bill and balance the country ‘s trade with the outside world.

“ We import far more goods than we export and this is a situation which must change. We need to reduce our import bill and balance our trade by exporting high quality – locally made products like the cars which will be produced by the Kiira Motors Corporation” Dr Rugunda stated.

He said that Kiira Motors Corporation, the flagship for Mission Vehicles made in Uganda was a very important national program of strategic importance that should be supported all the way- to deliver quality and affordable vehicles for the domestic, regional and international markets. He said Uganda should leverage the newly created African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) by supplying high quality affordable products. AFCFTA was created following the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations. It is the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

A jovial Dr. Rugunda observed that with a huge available market for cars, where 630,000 units are expected to be bought in the East African Region annually by 2032, there is need to streamline Uganda’s automotive industry across the entire value chain so that Ugandans can be stimulated to make car parts and supply them to the Kiira Vehicle Plant in Jinja. “We are looking at real possibilities where Kiira Motors and the automotive sector in general will be at the center for creating many opportunities across the value chain”, he added.

The Prime Minister made the remarks yesterday at a colourful ceremony where he presided over the transfer of Kiira Motors Corporation, a State Enterprise established to undertake the Commercialisation of the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project, from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). Hon. Amelia Kyambadde the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives handed over the ownership instruments of Kiira Motors to her Colleague the Minister of Science Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Hon. Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye.

Others present to witness the seamless handover were Prof. Henry Arinaitwe who represented the Vice Chancellor Makerere University, the Permanent Secretary MOSTI, Mr. David. O.O. Obong, the Executive Chairman of Kiira Motors Corporation, Hon. Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Tobgoa and the Chief Executive Officer of Kiira Motors, Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi. The Prime Minister said the symbolic handover was a testament to the cordial working relations among government ministries to foster economic growth and ensure the country is transformed to middle income status.

Trade Minister, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, reminded the meeting that Kiira Motors Corporation is a state enterprise which was incorporated under the Uganda Companies Act, 2012, to champion the development of the domestic automotive value chain for job and wealth creation in line with Uganda Vision 2040. The equity partners are government of the Republic of Uganda represented by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation holding 96% of the initial stock and Makerere University holding 4%. She said that while under her ministry, Kiira Motors had registered major milestones that included the construction and installation of a 3.7km long 33kV medium voltage electricity line connecting the Kiira Vehicle Plant to the national electricity grid and installation of a 5.4km long 6-inch pipeline connecting the plant site to the Jinja municipal water supply system among others.

Mrs. Kyambadde who has been championing Uganda’s participation in the Africa Free Trade Area expressed confidence in the capabilities and organisational capacity of Kiira Motors Corporation under its new mother Ministry of Science Trade and Innovation to deliver on their promises to develop green mobility technologies that will be herald across the world. “Kiira Motors is on the right trajectory and it has all our support, “she stated.

Hon. Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye who is now superintending over the Kiira Motors national enterprise thanked President Yoweri Museveni for setting up the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation because it has given hope to Ugandan innovators who hitherto had no known home. He said that apart from setting up MOSTI, government has gone ahead to provide an innovation fund of shs.10bn for the Financial Year 2019/20 to support local innovators. The fund is expected to grow to a tune of shs.500bn.

Hon. Dr. Tumwesigye explained that the ministry will register all innovators across the country and set up a committee of experts who will select those innovators with innovations that can be commercialised to realise economic growth and national development. It is those selected innovators that will be funded and supported by Government. While briefing the meeting about the progress made by Kiira Motors, the company’s CEO Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi said that 324 Ugandans are being employed at the Kiira Vehicles Plant construction site in Jinja. He noted that the construction of Key Access Roads and the Start-Up Assembly Building are underway, with the latter at Substructure Level.

Musasizi expressed the importance of putting in place an automotive policy to regulate vehicle imports and exports, to ensure progressive enhancement of automotive local content participation through technology transfer, development and diffusion.

The writer is a media and communications consultant and advocate of the High Court of [email protected]

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