Kiira Motors Corporation is a State Enterprise with Government of the Republic of Uganda and Makerere University as equity partners. Kiira Motors Corporation was established to commercialize the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project through championing Value Addition in the Domestic Automotive Industry for job creation and diversification of the Ugandan economy.

The Kiira Motors initiative dates back to 2007 when a team of students and staff at Makerere University were invited to be part of an international consortium, the Vehicle Design Summit 2.0 (VDS 2.0). Inspired by the key challenges perceived as opportunities in the 21st Century, a group of motivated researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) founded VDS with the ultimate aim of developing environmentally friendly commuter transport solutions. The goal of the VDS 2.0 Global Consortium was to design, build and bring to market, the Vision 200; a hyper-efficient five-passenger vehicle, earmarked as a production vehicle for the developing countries, starting with India. Makerere University, the only participant from Africa, was responsible for the design and integration of the Low Power Electronics and Data Networking Systems. The Vision 200 was completed and displayed at the Dream Exposition, at the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile, Turin, Italy from 22nd September until 24th November 2008.

The exposure gained from the participation in the VDS 2.0 and the prospect of changing the status quo of the Ugandan automotive industry energized the creation of the Centre for Research in Transportation Technologies (CRTT) at Makerere University in 2009. The main aim of CRTT was to champion research and development of eco–friendly transport solutions for Africa. The Kiira Electric Vehicle Project was subsequently commissioned with support from the Government of the Republic of Uganda for Innovation Projects at Makerere University to build Uganda’s first electric vehicle.

The Kiira Electric Vehicle Project designed and built three (3) Concept Vehicles: The Kiira EV (Launched by H.E. the President of Uganda on 24th November 2011), Africa’s first Electric Vehicle; the Kiira EV SMACK (Unveiled at the Kenyatta International Conference Center, Nairobi, Kenya on 14th November 2014), Africa’s first plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle; and the Kayoola Solar Bus (Launched by H.E. the President of Uganda on 16th February 2016), Africa’s first Solar Electric Bus. The leadership in technological innovation and strategic product development demonstrated by the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project was recognized by Frost & Sullivan, a global market research and consulting firm, with the Best Practices Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Mobility 2016.

Figure 2: Kiira EV

The government of the Republic of Uganda allocated 100 acres of land and a seed fund as capitalization for setting up and kick-starting the operations of the Kiira Vehicle Plant. The decision was facilitated by a comprehensive appraisal and approval of a Feasibility Study for Setting Up and Operating the Kiira Vehicle Plant by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The government is cognizant that the market entry strategy is the assembly of vehicles in partnership with reputable Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer(s) and progressive development of automotive local content participation through technology transfer. The development of detailed design specifications for the start-up Kiira Vehicle Plant Facilities is ongoing paving way for construction of the Plant which is scheduled to be ready by December 2019 with vehicle assembly commencing in January 2020.

Figure 4: Aerial view of Kiira Vehicle Plant Startup Facility showing staff and visitors parking and solar panels on the roof

The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation is mandated to provide policy guidance and oversight to Kiira Motors Corporation. The strategic objectives of Kiira Motors Corporation are:

  • To set up and operate vehicle plants and service centers for the assembly and sale of vehicles and provision of vehicle support products and services that exceed customer expectation;
  • To facilitate the transfer and domestication of vehicle technology for the enhancement of automotive local content participation through strategic alliances with both domestic and international actors;
  • To provide policy advisory and advocacy for developing a sustainable business environment for the domestic automotive market place; and
  • To set up and operate cutting edge vehicle support infrastructures such as charging stations and facilities to support electric, autonomous and connected vehicles.
Figure 5: View of Kiira Vehicle Plant Startup Facilities from the Main Gate

The actualization of the goals of Kiira Motors Corporation is expected to contribute toward the phasing out of the importation of end-of-life vehicle technology while providing the opportunity for the citizenry to apply themselves in the varied employment and investment opportunities projected to be opened up by the Investment. This is further envisaged to catalyze industrialization leading to savings in foreign exchange; improvement of the balance of trade; economic diversification; attraction of foreign direct investment and development of skills relevant for developing a sustainable automotive value chain in Uganda.

The long-term success of Kiira Motors Corporation is buttressed by the ability to develop and provide quality products and services that exceed contemporary domestic customer requirements, are competitively priced and are supported with relevant policy interventions for market development.