What comes to mind whenever the word ‘entrepreneur’ is mentioned?
The answers usually range from an economic change agent to someone who plans for, handles and assumes market risks. It can also imply someone who is an opportunity hunter, risk-taker, goal-setter, superb strategist, confident problem-solver, hardworking, persistent, and committed.
At Kiira Motors Corporation, the plant that is making the Kiira EV and Kayoola Coaches, this is what came to my head when I visited the facility three weeks ago.
I asked the officials to answer one question: Apart from making Uganda a producer of home-made vehicles, what opportunities will exist ahead of the plant’s completion in June this year? What is in for entrepreneurs like myself? In this final part of this series, we provide some answers.
The answers I got were convincing but may probably be hard to comprehend if you are not a serial entrepreneur. And of course, I am mindful of the fact that not all Ugandans can be entrepreneurs. Few can make it and once they have done so, they automatically create jobs for the majority.
So, what opportunities will Kiira Motors present for the avid Ugandan entrepreneur?
At the macro level, the strategic government investment in the Kiira Vehicle Plant is expected to create over 14,000 jobs directly and indirectly. These jobs will range from mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, designers, painters, wielders, bar benders, machine workers, marketers and the like. The facility is poised to catalyze upstream investment in the manufacture of Auto-Parts from Bamboo, Steel, Banana Fiber, sand, glass and many others etc. This will provide opportunities for supply to the rest of the population.
At the current phase for example, jobs for over 500 Ugandans have already been created during the construction of the Kiira Vehicle Plant Start-Up Facilities and Technology Transfer Activities in Jinja. Establishment of the Kiira Vehicle Plant is projected to increase demand for the utilization of natural resources such as steel from iron ore deposits in Western Uganda (260 Million Metric Tons); plastics from oil and gas, lithium ion batteries from graphite, lithium and cobalt deposits, vehicle upholstery and interior padding from cotton and leather, glass from silica and sand among others.
The National Enterprise Corporation, the army’s corporate arm overseeing the plant, is already sourcing construction materials such as Marram/Gravel-840,000 Tonnes, Sand-800,000 Tonnes, Cement-5,000 Tonnes, Aggregates -217,000 Tonnes, Hardcore-140,000 Tonnes, Timber, Structural & Reinforcement Steel, Iron Sheets-52,000 Sheets, Chain-link, Furniture, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Plumbing Materials, etc.), all estimated at over UGX 28 billion within Uganda. Great opportunity there!
Establishment of the Kiira Vehicle Plant is expected to catalyse investment by small and medium enterprises in the manufacture of vehicle parts, components and autonomy systems. These include brake pads, seats, bolts and nuts, bumpers, vehicle electronics, navigation system, among others. Uganda Batteries and Nile Batteries were quick to sniff this opportunity and are already making Axillary Batteries. Auto paints manufacturers such as Peacock Paints and Sadolin have cashed in. Other industries such as DAS Industries, have cashed in as well and are busy supplying aluminum components from their Njeru base.
The Kiira Motors Corporation team has also been building skills in electric vehicle development and is well positioned to capitalise on this skill to provide value to Uganda. With the right blend of resources and policy interventions, Kiira Motors Corporation is poised to provide the beachhead for African innovation in vehicle electrification, making cars suited for the African roads, climate and support infrastructure.
Uganda has an installed power capacity of 1,252.4 MW and is expected to increase this with 600 MW with the completion of the Karuma hydropower plant. In 2019, Uganda had a peak demand of 723.76 MW. The combined excess installed capacity of 1,128.64 MW has the potential to run over 5,644 Kayoola EVS Charging Stations simultaneously, supporting approximately 11,287 Kayoola EVS on the grid. Though this is a hypothetical estimation, it serves to demonstrate the potential of electric energy available for powering electric mobility in Uganda and also an investment opportunity beyond the current chain of fuel stations. It would require approximately only 2,400 Kayoola EVS buses to replace the over 14,000 14-Seater taxis operating in the Kampala city today. It is important to note that 14-Seater taxis in Kampala city account for Over 82 % of the commuters within Kampala city.
In terms of consumption rate, it is more advantageous to run the Kayoola EVS. On average, it accrues to a saving of up to UGX 135,431 per 100 km (81% saving) compared to a Diesel Bus on the backdrop of Uganda burning UGX 182 Billion Annually on Excess Fuel. The Kayoola EVS offers other advantages such as low maintenance costs of approximately USD 5,800 per annum compared to over USD 10,000 per annum of a Diesel Bus (43% Saving), because of fewer moving parts and there are no engine oil changes required.
Over and above these advantages, the operation of the Kayoola EVS has zero greenhouse emissions, implying its adoption will contribute to the improvement of air quality in Kampala, the second most polluted city in the Africa with over 503g/km of High-Carbon Transport Based Emissions (UNECE Acceptable 130g/km). It should also be noted that the battery life of the Kayoola EVS electric bus is up to 3,000 charge cycles (900,000km) compared to 200,000 km of typical diesel engines. Let’s dig and grab these opportunities.
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