Makerere University will require at least Shs1 trillion in the next four years before it can start producing cars on a commercial scale.
The revelation was made at a two-day workshop at Makerere University in Kampala this week where students and their lecturers exhibited their various innovations under the President’s support.
Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, the manager of the Kiira EV car project, said their initial funding proposal to President Museveni in 2011 to make a car and go commercial would cost them about Shs154 billion.
Now the researchers say they will need between $350million to $400million (about Shs1trillion) before they can begin full production of the car.
The funding is to facilitate the production of Kiira Motors Corporation’s (KMC) flagship vehicle, se t up the plant and the associated infrastructure and manpower to spark an automotive industry in Uganda.
According Prof Tickodri, when they get to the commercial level, his team will produce 20 cars per year in the initial stages of the venture but the production will increase depending on the demand.
“We have got to do more things to a point where it will be attractive to the private sector. Our ambition is to commercialise the Kiira EV. We must establish the first car manufacturing industry in Eastern Africa and we are coming up with a vehicle in 2018. We will be setting up a hi-tech system, we need to address technical institutions and equip them. That is where we are moving in the next four years. It is our time to go to our own moon and this will be our economic transformation,” he said.
The project is expected to create about 500 jobs.
However, Dr Magie Kigozi, the former Uganda Investment Authority president, challenged the academia and said they have failed to create a link between their institutions and the private sector. She expressed her disappointment on how institutions of higher learning have continued to ‘despise’ the peasants who should be consumers of their research.
“The problem is that the link between the private sector and Makerere is very weak. We don’t know what is happening, what human resource you have. The value chain breaks somewhere. When we need research or data, we go to organisations because we don’t know you are there. We go to Ndeeba, Katwe to fix our cars yet it would have been easier to come here,” Dr Kigozi said on behalf of the private sector.
“I think you despise us. There is that ‘tebasoma’ (these uneducated people) and ‘tebalina sente’ (they are poor)). You need to get out of that and create a link. I am in agriculture now and there is absolute pity for me from the youth who are wondering why I joined agriculture when I have been ‘up there’. They think I shouldn’t be in the garden. I tell them opportunities are here but they don’t believe.”
While some researchers are celebrating their efforts under the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology, others are lamenting for being left out. At least Shs57.4 billion has been spent in the last three years on the university’s five-year projects in fields of agriculture, engineering and veterinary medicine.
Assistant Prof Anthony Muggaga, the Deputy Principal for the College of Education, said the support for science courses has been mismanaged. He said as long as teachers are not trained in the right skills and laboratories are not equipped, promoting science will remain a dream.
“We are talking about science and leaving out teachers. How can you spend a whole semester without chemicals and you think you are promoting sciences?” he warned.
Makerere University Vice Chancellor John Ssentamu-Ddumba said there is a lot of expectations from institutions of higher learning yet they are underfunded. He appealed to the government to continue funding the projects and other innovations.
What SHS1 trillion can do for Uganda’s transport
Buses: It can buy 13,300 brand new units of 63-seater Yutong city busses from China at a cost of $30,000 (Shs78m) each; and 10,000 brand new units of 51-seater luxury bus coaches at $40,000 (Shs104m) per unit.
Luxury 4x4: This money can buy 8,163 brand new units of 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser V8 at $46,000 (Shs120m) per unit.
Train/Railway: It can construct 114km double track standard gauge railway line at the cost of $3.5m (Shs9b) per km. It can also buy 4,000 Linke Holfmann Bush (LBH) passenger train luxury AC coaches, and 6,660 ordinary LBH passenger train coaches.
July 2012: Kiira EV project start
July 2012-October 2015: Vehicle technical specifications
2013: Production vehicle concept; Master plan and site development brief
September 2015-December 2017: Vehicle validation
January-July 2016: Road networks
April 2016-February 2018: Production plant & warehouses
February 2018-June 2018: Market trials
July 2018: Series of production
June 2018-June 2019: Infirmary and guesthouse
May 2018- September 2019: Technology and innovation centre
Jan 2019-December 2019: Testing grounds