Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Dr Monica Musenero has revealed that the government has started the process of investing massively in electric public transport means including vehicles and motorbikes to help drive down emissions.
“We have come up with a plan and an inter-ministerial taskforce that is working on the roadmap to make the Uganda turning to electric Boda Bodas, buses for public transport entire country be on e-mobility. We have started with the issue of addressing mass transport not only to address pollution but also traffic congestion,” Dr Musenero said.
“We want to reduce pollution by introducing safe and exquisite mass transport means. We will be moving first with buses and later we shall put in place prototypes for SUVs and saloon cars. We are in the kitchen cooking and will soon unveil them,” Dr Musenero added.
Five of these buses Kiira Motors have since been sold to Tondeka Bus Transport Company Ltd and currently ferrying passengers within Kampala. Dr Musenero said plans are in high gear to have more of these used all over the country to provide public transport.
Dr Musenero insisted that all these will be manufactured locally.
“Many say Uganda is simply assembling but this is not true. We are manufacturing and assembly is just a small component of the process and it is essential.”
President Yoweri Museveni while launching this year’s national exhibition for science week to showcase Uganda’s advancement in science, technology and innovation in a bid to steer national development at Lugogo, said in a bid to address the issue of traffic congestion and emissions, government started with public transport, and to this he mentioned the Kiira EV buses that can run 300km before they can recharge.
Electric boda bodas
Dr Musenero also noted that government has partnered with private companies to provide electric motorcycles in form of boda bodas.
She explained that the companies selling the bikes have got an installment payment plan to make it easy to access with a paying time of two years.
The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation mentioned Zembo and Bodawerk International Ltd as some of the local companies producing the electric motorcycles.
“These bikes are 60% cheaper to operate than the current ones because they don’t take fuel. Charging the motorbike takes a very small fraction. They don’t have a lot of serviceable parts and operator gets a lot more money. Because they are made here, we are taking care of safety measures and local circumstances. For example if it is stolen, it will report to us and we will be able to switch it off. If you try to remove parts, it will report. This will enhance security of the motorcycle,” Dr Musenero said.
She noted that the bikes cost shs5 million each.
Charging stations for electric public transport vehicles and motorbikes
Minister Musenero said government is working with private companies to install electric charging stations all over the country.
“Three have already been set up along Masaka road Buwama, Lukaya and Masaka city. The most expensive component of the electric motorcycle is the battery and to this, the rider doesn’t have to own the battery. They will be leasing the batteries. When running low, the rider will go to the next charging station to change it and pay some money to get another one and leave the one which is low at the station.”
She noted the battery can run for up to 70km.
“We are also trying to develop charger to be owned by riders to charge from home.”
Uganda’s technological advancement
Dr. Musenero said technological advancement in today’s world dictates that science and technology hold the key to the progress and development of any nation.
“As the world moves deep into the fourth industrial revolution, Science and Technology has taken on the fundamental role of wealth creation, improvement of the quality of life and real economic growth and transformation. The Government of Uganda has positioned Science Technology and Innovation as the vital driver for socio-economic development and transformation as laid down Vision 2040.”
She said the national exhibition week for science will provide a platform to showcase Uganda’s innovations and technologies across all sectors that are steering the country towards achieving the national development goals and fighting poverty.
According to Musenero, this year, focus will be on aeronautics and space science; indigenous motor vehicle industry and pathogen economy among others.