The Birth of Mission Vehicles Made in Uganda
The genesis of Kiira Motors Corporation dates back to 2007 when a team of students and staff (Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa and Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi) at Makerere University were invited to be part of an international consortium. This was part of a Vehicle Design Summit (VDS), a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) initiative with the goal of designing and producing the Vision 200 – a 5-passenger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle targeting the Indian market. Makerere University the only participant from Africa was responsible for the design and integration of the Low Power Electronics and Data Networking Systems. The team participated, if not for the advancement of scholarship, perhaps for such simple reasons as the associated international exposure and acquisition of exciting skills in Automotive Development.
The team’s selfless effort in carrying out the task at hand against all odds saw Vision 200 completed and displayed at the Dream Exposition in Torino, an event celebrating automotive history and future opportunities and the Museo Nazionale dell'Automobile, Turin, from 22nd September until 24th November, 2008. Given the experience in building the Vision 200, other global experiences through collaborations, and best practices benchmarking, the Makerere team resolved to embark on a project aimed at designing and building a vehicle in Uganda.
The Center for Research in Transportation Technologies (CRTT) was conceived in December 2008 and approved as part of the University Structures effective 1st January 2011. The strategic goal of CRTT was to advance research and innovation in transportation technologies on land, air and sea with specific emphasis on green mobility solutions for Africa. The Kiira EV Project was the first project implemented under CRTT.
Considering the student members of the Vision 200 team had completed their studies and left the university, Prof. Tickodri-Togboa and Paul Isaac Musasizi recruited a new student team to start work on designing and building a two-seater plugin electric vehicle – the Kiira EV. It’s important to note that the name Kiira EV was recommended by the President of Uganda, HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during interactions with the team in December 2009. This was at a meeting following the President’s visit at Makerere University resulting into the Presidential Initiative Fund for Science and Technology Innovations which took effect on 1st July 2010.
The Presidential Initiative Fund for Science and Technology Innovations provided the necessary finances for the building of the Kiira EV to start in January 2011 through to 31st October 2011 when the Kiira EV was completed. The President of the Republic of Uganda, HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, launched the Kiira EV, the first electric vehicle designed and built in Africa, at a very high profile world class event on 24th November 2011.
The successful execution of the Kiira EV Project was celebrated by Ugandans at large, recognized across the world and graciously welcomed by the President who invited the team to develop a proposal for Establishing a Vehicle Plant in Uganda as a way of commercializing this stellar innovation. The Kiira Motors Project (KMP) was therefore developed by the team and presented to the President with a selection of Government Officials at Statehouse Nakasero on 10th December 2011. The project proposal was well received resulting into government’s commitment to implementing the Kiira Motors Project as a government initiative for Automotive Industry Development aimed at, “Establishing a Vehicle Plant in Uganda”.
Kiira Motors Project (KMP) on top of working toward the establishment of a vehicle plant in Uganda was implementing the Kiira Vehicle Technology Innovation Program through which the Kiira EV SMACK, the first Electric Hybrid Vehicle designed and built in Africa was developed and unveiled at a very high profile event at the Kenyatta International Convention Center in Kenya in November 2014; and the Kayoola Solar Bus, the first Electric Solar designed and built in Africa, launched by HE Yoweri K Museveni on 16th February 2016. These concept vehicles we developed to emphasize the importance of green mobility especially for Urban Mass Transportation and the Role Africa can play in the realization of decarbonized Urban Mass Mobility.
KMC was recognized for the initiatives for Green Mobility by Frost & Sullivan with the prestigious 2016 Frost and Sullivan Visionary Innovation Leadership Award in Sustainable Mobility. The project contributed to the scientific body of knowledge through a number of publications presented at high profile international conferences on the Automotive Industry including being part of the team contributing to the East African Community Automotive Industry Development Policy.