Kiira From Uganda – State Initiated Car Industry

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Kiira Motors Co. Ltd. is a company founded in 2014 in Uganda, East Africa, and based in the capital Kampala. The company is 96% state-owned and 4% owned by the Makerere University of Kampala.

The origins of the company go back to a design project by students of Makerere University. This culminated in 2011 in the development of the first prototype, the Kiira EV, a small, cost-optimised electric car with two seats. A government initiative then led to the creation of Kiira Motors Co Ltd in 2014 and other prototypes included the Kiira EV SMACK, the first hybrid car designed and built in Africa. A prototype of the Kayoola Solar Bus followed.

Kiira has started construction of a modern production facility in the Jinja district near the Ugandan capital Kampala. The plant will initially focus on the production of the electric bus Kayoola EVS. The initial capacity is estimated at 5,000 vehicles per year.

Kiira is cooperating with the Chinese original equipment manufacturer (OEM) CHTC Motor Co Ltd, which is owned by the Chinese state. The company already operates several factories. Kiira’s plant is also available for production by other automotive groups, and talks have been held with the Indian car company Tata.

Kiira stresses that the new plant will not only assemble imported car parts. The company also wants to transfer knowledge and continues to develop its own vehicles. In addition, Kiira’s CEO Paul Isaac Musasizi wants to continuously expand the cooperation with local suppliers. For example, local sourcing of batteries, filters, seats, paintwork, body parts and marketing could be considered. In addition, steel, lithium and copper from Uganda and banana fibre seats are to be processed.

Kiira’s flagship is the Kiira EVS (the “beast”), which so far only exists as a prototype. It is a hybrid vehicle in the upper price segment for 25,000 to 35,000 USD per unit. It is not produced in series, but on a contract basis.

The Ugandan government has pledged USD 40 million in financing to Kiira. It is also supporting the Ugandan automotive project on another level: it has decided to stop the import of used cars older than 15 years.