By Our Reporter
Uganda’s Finance Minister, Mr. Matia Kasaija has underscored the importance of technological innovations as the country prepares for the 4th industrial revolution.
” A country that doesn’t innovate as we head into the 4th industrial revolution is a dead one. Uganda should keep pace with the rest of the world in the field of science, technology and innovation to create jobs and improve our general wellbeing,” Kasaija said.
The minister made the remarks while on a fact finding visit to the Kiira Motors Vehicle Plant that is under construction at the Jinja Industrial and Business Park. “With digitalization, artificial intelligence and development of electric vehicles, Uganda must keep as close as possible to the rest of the world. New technologies are emerging everyday and as a country we should be prepared not to be left behind,” the Minister stated.
While appreciating the management and stuff of Kiira Motors for their innovations to champion green mobility technologies as a solution to Uganda’s urban transportation needs, Kasaija said that it was the NRM government’s ideology to have Ugandans at the center of the country’s economic development.
“The economy should be in the hands of Ugandans and everything is being done to develop capacity of local contractors to take on and deliver quality works on some of the country’s infrastructure development projects”, he said. The Minister said local companies with demonstrable capacity should be encouraged to undertake infrastructure development projects on which government spends an estimated Shs. 7 trillion. “This is the only way we can develop and increase local content participation.”
Kasaija implored other Uganda innovators to follow the Kiira Motors model -to patent and commercialize their innovations. Kiira Motors has unveiled its production electric buses paving way for the deployment of the first Ugandan made Kayoola EVS buses for urban transportation. After the successful validation tests, the Kayoola EVS buses are expected to be deployed on the Entebbe express highway.
The Finance Minister pledged that government will bridge the funding gap for the Kiira Vehicles plant to be completed on schedule. “The Job you have started by demonstrating local capacity in development of green mobility technologies as a solution for urban public transportation shall be completed,” he stressed.
The minister was taken on a site tour by the Kiira Motors Executive Chairman , Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, the Under Secretary of Ministry Of Science Technology and Innovation, Mr. Emmanuel Freddie Mugunga , the CEO, Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi and Brig. Gen. Ddiba Ssentongo the Deputy Managing Director of National Enterprise Corporation ,(NEC) the business army of the UPDF who are in charge of the construction works .
Prof. Tickodri thanked President Yoweri Museveni for believing and supporting Kiira Motors’ mission vehicles made in Uganda. Brig. Ssentongo said that with the availability of funds, NEC has the capacity to complete the construction of the Kiira Vehicle Plant ahead of schedule. “We shall delivery a world class vehicle plant to show that Uganda and the UPDF have the requisite competences and capacity to deliver high quality projects of national strategic importance,” he said.
Mr. Mugunga called for the setting up of a National Construction Company in a deliberate effort to stop capital freight by foreign companies.
According to , Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi, the new Kiira Motors electric buses can cover a distance of 300 kilometers under a single charge. They have a speed governor that allows a maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour but can pick up to a speed of 140 Kilometers per hour.
The 12-meter-long Kayoola EVS buses have a capacity of 90 passengers (49 sitting and 41 standing) while the diesel engine ones will seat 65 passengers.