THE ELETRIC VEHICLES REVOLUTION: UGANDA GOVERNMENT SHOULD SET UP CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE AND PASS THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY POLICY

BY MOSES SSERWANGA

As we usher in the year 2022 amid a resilient Covid 19 pandemic- the 4th industrial revolution is also taking shape-with the global 9 trillion dollars automotive industry quickly shifting to electric mobility technologies to mitigate the wide spread effects of climate change largely as a results of pollution from fossil fuels .

Last year, over 11 million registered electric vehicles including cars, buses, vans and trucks were on the road across the world. This number is projected to rise to 145 million by the end of the decade.

Luckily, for Uganda and Africa in general -this new global trend for software-enabled forms of E- mobility might – after all-not leave us behind by several hundred years as the case has been with the past industrial revolutions.

Several African countries can be credited for attempting to keep with -in touching distance with the more advanced world to deploy clean energy -efficient Electric vehicles and phase out the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars by the year 2030. And this is just eight years away.

Minister for Presidency Milly Babirye Babalanda displaying a Kiira Motors’ mobile Electric Vehicles charger at Kololo during the annual science week

Uganda, South Africa , Morocco, Nigeria and Mauritius are among the early leaders in the EV market and this is one milestone that should be celebrated across the African continent . At least for once, Africa is moving in tandem with the rest of the world to deploy its home grown E-mobility technologies that will help the continent to have a fair share of the multi-trillion -global car market .

Uganda together with other EAC regional government should seize the opportunity in the new year 2022 -to pronounce themselves and offer clear road maps on greening our cities  by promoting clean and efficient  E-mobility solutions. Kampala and many other African cities are ranked among the most polluted in the world due to the dumping of -end-of-life second hand used vehicles.

Dr. Monica Musenero Minister of Sceince Technology and innovation Office of the President driving one of the Kayoola Fully Electric Buses in Kampala

Well as several industrialized- developed nations have set 2030 as the magic year to phase out Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles ,only one African country – Cape Verde has taken definitive steps to phase out the ICE cars by 2035 .

In Uganda -Kiira Motors Corporation the state enterprise and industry captains in the development of the country’s nascent automotive industry have been at the forefront of developing  E-mobility technologies that have resulted in the deployment of electric vehicles -the Kayoola fully electric buses which are now offering shuttle services for employees of the Uganda Civil Aviation authority .

The Kayoola EVs now deployed on Ugandan roads

Subsequently ,a  draft Automotive Industry Development Policy has been crafted to shape the destiny of Uganda’s multi-billion automotive industry. But unfortunately  ,this blue print is yet to be discussed and passed by cabinet .

This means that whereas Kiira Motors and other two and three wheeler electric motorcycle producers like Zembo, Bodawerk and International University of East  Africa (IUEA) have taken the initiative to ensure that Uganda is at close quarters with other E-mobility champions across the world-there is still no clear government plan to align the country to the global mobility trends.

Perhaps this is the reason why there is relatively slow adoption of EVs in Uganda and EAC region which still face  infrastructural challenges like the lack of public E-charging systems (apparently KMC has the only six available E-chargers for E-vehicles ) in the country if not in the entire EAC region. And what a pity ! .

What needs to be done rather urgently

Government should in the year 2022 pass and implement the Automotive Industry Development Policy and other attendant laws .  There is also the urgent need -for the development of a national charging infrastructure for Electric mobility and that should be connected to the national grid at affordable rates to phase out the high polluting end-of-life vehicles in Uganda by 2030. This should quickly be done through the Ministries of Energy and Mineral Development and Transport and Works in collaboration with the Ministry of Science ,Technology and Innovation in the Office of the President -led by Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, Gen. Katumba Wamala and Dr. Monica Musenero ,respectively . 

Kiira Motors and other start-up companies like Zembo, Bodawerk that have worked against all odds to  bring the electric-car revolution to the streets of Kampala with the production of electric-vehicle fleet and E- motorcycles  need to be supported  by government by putting in place a robust -conducive environment that will facilitate the fast development of  the country ‘s  automotive industry to service the  huge vehicle market in the EAC region and Africa continent .

The writer is a Media ,Communications  Consultant  and Advocate of the High Court of Uganda 

msserwanga@gmail.com

MOSES SSERWANGA

Writer is a media and communications consultant And Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

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