BY MOSES SSERWANGA
The construction of Uganda’s first car production facilities – the Kiira Vehicle Plant -the largest in the East and Central Africa region is set to be completed by December this year -providing immense economic opportunities across the country’s nascent Automotive Industry value chain . But are Ugandans prepared and ready to cash in ?
The new Minister of Science Technology and Innovation, Office of the President, Dr. Monica Musenero who made her maiden tour of the multi- billion Kiira Vehicle Plant at the Jinja Industrial and Business park has since rallied Ugandans to position themselves and supply vehicle parts to the facility that will produce 22 buses per day and 5,000 a year .
Dr. Musenero has observed and rightly so -that the motor vehicle market is growing steadily with regional vehicle sales anticipated to reach over 630,000 vehicles annually for EAC and 10 million vehicles annually on the African Continent by 2030. This trajectory therefore , presents an- unprecedented – untapped opportunity for domestic industrialization .
Motor Vehicles on average are made of an estimated 30,000 different parts -many of which can easily be made by Ugandans locally under -the government’s local content participation and Buy Uganda ,Build Uganda (BUBU) -national economic and development policies.
Apart from creating well over -100,000 jobs directly and indirectly in the medium term -once the vehicle-production lines are opened at the plant early next year- Ugandans should be supported to set up cottage industries to produce car parts while adding value to the vast minerals that are abundant across the country .
It should be noted that Uganda is already endowed with vast amounts of minerals, which can be used for vehicle parts manufacturing including iron ore for automotive steel; silica sand for glass; rare earth elements for glass glazing, catalytic converters, batteries and electronics.
Other minerals include graphite for brake pads; oil for plastics; cobalt and lithium for batteries; kaolin, marble and vermiculite for paint; tungsten, columbite, tantalite, chromite and titanium for metal alloys; copper for auto electric conductors and motors, among others.
Many of the country’s youth can be trained and re-skilled to meaningfully participate and directly benefit (cash in) from – the localization of the lucrative Uganda Automotive Industry- parts supply chain. This is how government’s vision- led by President Yoweri Museveni to build Uganda’s first -ever indigenous Motor Vehicle Industry for jobs and wealth creation will take root .
Government has already clearly defined its economic growth pathway under its blue print – the NDPIII where it is stated that a sustainable and successful industrialization of Uganda -will by large measure be hinged on the development of key industrial sectors including the automotive industry. This will lead to import substitution by promoting local manufacturing and mineral-based industries .
The promotion of local manufacturing of motor vehicles while also championing the establishment of an efficient, integrated, sustainable, safe and inclusive public transport system where environmentally friendly transport solutions.- with Kiira Motors taking the lead can longer be ignored .
And there are already positive indicators to show -that the private sector has positively taken note of the opportunity and is moving very fast to seize it . Private players including bankers, insurance and other finance companies , such as RentCo Africa, UBA Bank, Absa, DFCU Bank, Stanbic Bank, Mercantile Bank, TOTAL Uganda, VIVO Energy, MOGAS, Hardware World, Telecoms -Airtel and MTN have expressed interest to partner with Kiira Motors in development of the local vehicle production industry .
Tondeka Metro Co. has offered to be Kiira Motors first client -placing an unprecedent-offtake order to have 1,030 buses 50 of which will be fully electric – to be built at the -Kiira Vehicle Plant early next year .
This one deal alone ,if well managed is set to transform Uganda’s public transport system – in a manner that has not been witnessed here before . And the benefits are huge .
Under the deal it has been revealed , Kiira Motors Corporation will working with Tondeka Metro, RentCo Africa and Golden Dragon as the Technology Partner to produce 30,000 Buses at the Kiira Vehicle Plant for the East Africa Regional Market, with 65% Parts and Components localized by 2030.
Kiira Motors and its partners will deploy the 1,030 Buses by mid-2022. This local joint venture is aimed at modernizing public transport in the Urban Centers across Uganda and beyond- while building the Indigenous Motor Vehicle Industry through Technology Transfer and Supply Chain Localization.
The Mass Transit Bus System (MTBS) will operate in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area within the radius of 25-30km along gazette routes and is estimated to move approximately 600,000 people per day while adhering to the Ministry of Health guidelines on COVID-19 and 1,500,000 people per day on a business-as-usual scenario. Payments for tickets will be made through an end-to-end cashless ticketing system integrated with Mobile Money (Airtel Money, MTN Mobile Money and Afrimoney), Visa, Mastercard and Union Pay.
While the private sector is shifting ground to local manufacturing and providing home grown solutions for local problems , the ordinary Ugandan especially those in the transport industry -i.e the bus driver , the tax drivers , the touts , conductors , the mechanics and vehicle parts dealers should be mobilized in a concerted government effort -to be part of Uganda’s Automotive Industry revolution .
The writer is a media , communications, stakeholder engagements consultant and Advocate of the High Court of Uganda .
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