BY MOSES SSERWANGA
The development of the local nascent automotive industry has registered a major milestone with Uganda being assigned for the first time, a World Manufacturers Identifier (WMI) by the International Society for Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) paving way for the production of vehicles in the country.
According to communication from SAE addressed to the Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) dated March 17, the SAE WMI Coordinator, Mr. Kris Siddall stated that Uganda has now been officially assigned WMI codes to be used by vehicles manufacturers.
Automotive Industry experts have welcomed the development saying it was another giant step forward in the development of Uganda’s automotive industry. Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi the Chief Executive Officer at Kiira Motors Corporation explained that with Uganda being officially recognized by SAE and assigned WMI codes, UNBS has now been empowered to start issuing local vehicle manufacturers with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs).
The International Standards Organization defines a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as a unique code, including a serial number, used by the automotive industry to identify individual motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, as defined in ISO 3779 (content and structure) and ISO 4030 (location and attachment).
He said that this was very important because it is the best and safest way of figuring out the accurate identity of the Vehicle.”This VIN identifies the country in which the vehicle was assembled and the manufacturer. Vehicle registration companies and auto-manufacturers maintain databases with these numbers to validate and identify the vehicle correctly. This is key for interventions addressing import substitution and export of vehicles,” Musasizi explained.
Following Uganda’s acquisition of World Manufacturers Identifier codes, UNBS is required in consultation with other key industry stakeholders to develop quality management systems and certification for vehicle producing companies like Kiira Motors and vehicle parts manufacturers across the automotive industry value chain.
This means that it may require UNBS to institute an Accredited Technical Service Center /Authority to undertake the homologation of automotive products. Uganda is implementing the four-year Kiira Motors project roadmap that was approved by Cabinet in 2018 to set up a vehicle plant and start production of vehicles made in Uganda by July 2021.
The Kiira Vehicle Plant is being constructed by the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), the business arm of the UPDF and is slated to be completed in June 2021 with a capacity to produce 5,000 vehicles every year. Motor vehicle importation is ranked the second-highest valued call on Uganda’s foreign exchange bill at 450Million US dollars, the first being petroleum products.
The Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye has since noted that once the Kiira Vehicle Plant is up and running, the country’s foreign exchange hemorrhage through the importation of used vehicles with the end of life technology will not only be reversed but many job opportunities across the automotive industry value chain shall be created while also providing a platform for import substitution.
“We shall be able to manufacture a wide range of auto-parts from Uganda ranging from glass from sand, chassis and body panels from our iron and steel, Floors from bamboo, carpets from Banana fiber, batteries from lithium and cobalt, chairs and other plastic modules from oil and upholstery from our leather among others,” he stated.
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