KAMPALA- Makerere University has agreed to a 4 per cent shareholding on their Kiira EV car innovation with government following an out-of-court settlement.
This means that government, through Uganda Development Corporation Limited (UDCL) will take 96 per cent of the investment.
Prof Barnabas Nuwangwe, the deputy vice chancellor in charge of finance, told Sunday Monitor that the duo arrived at the figure after looking at what Makerere’s investment will be in the project.
“Makerere University withdrew the case it had filed against UDCL on the Kiira EV pioneer car. It is not fair to take up our project we started and they don’t recognise our input. We filed the case and we are comfortable with the out-of-court settlement now. Let us look at the future. It is history for Makerere staff who were trying to sabotage us,” Prof Nuwangwe said.
He added: “We arrived at the figure after computing what Makerere University’s input has been up to the commercial production. That stage was agreed upon by both parties. This is a multibillion dollar project. At least 4 per cent of Makerere shareholding is better than nothing.”
On April 1, 2014, UDCL caused the incorporation of Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) with UDCL as the sole shareholder in KMC. On June 6, 2014, Kiira Motors Corporation with the concurrence of Uganda Development Corporation lodged with the registrar of trademarks an application for registration of Kiira EV as a trademark.
This application was issued in the Uganda Gazette dated August 29, 2014 at pages 673 and 674. All this was done without the knowledge of the university.
But when Makerere University discovered the publication in the gazette, it went to court challenging UDCL ownership of the Kiira EV Car.
“Makerere University feels it is a principal stakeholder in the development of the Kiira EV project and hence its interest must be taken care of. If government thinks otherwise, let the university be part of the process to ensure that its interests like intellectual property rights are protected,” reads part of Makerere University documents.
However, Ms Pauline Among, UDCL spokesperson blamed it on a communication lapse which could have been resolved without Makerere going to court.
She explained that when the matter was settled this year, they have now commissioned a study to establish how much will be needed to go in full production and commercialisation of the project.
“We have agreed with Makerere to certain ratios. Initially, it was a communication gap. Makerere could have done better without going to court. Probably there were other issues. UDCL has a mandate because it is a government initiative. The matter was settled, there is no legal battle now. We are currently working on modalities of working together and how much of the investment will be needed,” she explained.
Makerere University students designed and built a five passenger plug in hybrid electric vehicle, Vision 200, which was exhibited in Torino Italy in 2008.
This gave birth to Makerere University Centre for Research and Transport Technology in 2009 to champion research and development of eco-friendly transportation solutions for Uganda and Africa.
The then deputy vice chancellor in charge of academics, Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, now state minister for Higher Education, was to chair it.
Under the Presidential Initiative for Science and Technology, the students and their teachers launched a two-seater electric car in 2011, naming it Kiira EV. Given funds, the innovators are ready to go full production.