By Moses Sserwanga
The commercialisation of Kiira electric vehicles will lead to import substitution, create jobs and contribute to national economic growth, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt.Hon. Rebecca Alitwara Kagada, has said.
Rt. Hon. Kagada said government should therefore, prioritise the completion of the Kiira Vehicles Plant being constructed at the Jinja Industrial and Business Park to enable the production of vehicles for the African and global market. “Parliament will continue to support this important national initiative to produce vehicles locally, create jobs for our people and save millions of dollars in foreign exchange,” she stressed.
The Speaker made the remarks on Friday when she was hosted at the Kiira Vehicles Plant by the Ministry of science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI) led by Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye. Other officials who were present to receive her included, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. David O.O .Obong, Under Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Freddie Mugunga, members of the Parliamentary Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation led the Chairperson, Hon. Fred BwinoKyakulaga, the Kiira Motors Corporation Ltd, Executive Chairman, Hon. Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri -Togboa and CEO, Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi.
Rt. Hon. Kadaga said that government programs of national strategic importance like the Kiira Motros project should be given funding priority to help reduce the poverty levels in the country and steer national economic growth. “I will work with Dr. Tumwesigye and the team at Kiira Motors to ensure this vehicles plant is completed on schedule,” she added.
Speaker takes ride in Uganda’s Kayoola electric bus
Earlier, Speaker Kadaga made a historic ride in the Ugandan made Kayoola electric bus from the Jinja suspended bridge all the way to the Kiira Vehicles Plant in Mutai, Kakira town council some 20 kilometers along the Jinja- Kamuli highway.
The Kiira Vehicles plant being constructed by the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) ,the business army of the UPDF is slated to be completed in June next year with a capacity to produce 5000 vehicles every year. Motor vehicles importation is ranked the second highest valued call on Uganda’s foreign exchange bill at 450M US dollars annually, the first being petroleum products.
Foreign exchange hemorrhage to be reversed
However , Minister of Science Technology and Innovation , Dr. Tumwesigye noted that once the Kiira Vehicles plant is up and running the country‘s foreign exchange hemorrhage through importation of second hand vehicles with end of life technology will not only be reversed but many job opportunities across the automotive industry value chain shall be created.
“We shall be able to manufacture most car parts from Uganda ranging from glass got out of sand, chassis and body panels got from our iron and steel, carpets from bamboo, battery from lithium and cobalt, chairs and other plastic from oil and upholstery from our leather among others. Ugandans are encouraged to start planning to supply some of these components thus creating jobs and wealth, “ he urged .
Ugandans should get ready to cash in
Dr. Tumwesigye called upon Ugandans to make maximum use of the Machine making machines equipment which was recently commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni at the UIRI facility in Namanve.
With Uganda’s population expected to hit 63.5 million people by 2030 and 105.7M by 2050, East Africa population growing to 442 million and Africa 2.5bn together with a Continental Free Trade Area, Dr. Tumwesigye said Kiira Motors should be positioned to take a share of this African market.
He said that by championing green mobility technologies through the production of electric vehicles like the Kayoola electric buses , government is implementing policies that will help reduce pollution related health problems . “ This will help reduce on pollution related ill-health as a result of burning diesel and other fossil fuels and contribute to ensuring that in Africa we keep our blue sky and clean breathing air through green industrialization and electric mobility .”
“Lets support Kiira Motors wholly owned by the people of Uganda achieve its targets on time,” Dr. Tumwesigye said.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Science,Technology and Innovation, Hon. Bwino said that it was paramount that Uganda’s economy is strengthened by supporting our local innovations while creating capacity to compete favorably in global markets . this he said , was in line with Uganda’s Vision 2040that highlights the need for Uganda to re-orient herself to make science, technology, engineering and innovation the main driver of economic growth and key pillar of competitiveness.
Hon. Bwino noted that tremendous progress has been made by Kiira Motors Corporation towards the construction of the Kiira vehicle Plant facilities and technology transfer with their partners in China.” It is my strong belief that if the required funds are availed the Kiira Vehicle Plant would be commissioned by December 2020,” he said.
In his remarks , the Kiira Motors Corporation ,Executive Chairman, Hon. Prof. Tickodri-Togboa said that with the progress registered in line with the Kiira Motors roadmap approved by cabinet in 2018, plans have been captured in the National Development Plan (NDP) III to establish a comprehensive Automotive Industrial and technology Park on over two square miles of land to support vehicle assembly ,parts manufacturing , vehicle testing facilities , automotive recycling facilities plus the requisite social amenities.
Prof. Tickodri-Togboa thanked President Museveni and government for the trust and support towards the establishment of the Kiira Vehicles Plant.
The writer is a Media and Communications Consultant/ Advocate of the high Court of Uganda.