Ugandan Students design an Electric Car
By Paul Ndiho
November 8, 2011
Students from Makerere University faculty of technology test drive an electric car they have built and plan to use the prototype to entice potential investors to start mass production.
Like many capital cities, Kampala in Uganda has its share of pollution. A fast growing population and rapid urban development has meant more cars on the road and more fumes in the atmosphere.
Environmentalists warn the high level of urban pollution is set to rise, leaving Kampala residents at risk of health problems and adding to the country’s carbon footprint.
But all that could change if a group of students from Makerere University in the capital have their way.
They’ve designed their very own version of the electric car, already making waves elsewhere in the world where it’s been touted as the solution to eradicating global car emissions.
Appropriately painted green to demonstrate its environmental credentials the Kiira EV can reach speeds of up to 60mph and lasts for three to four hours before it needs to be recharged.
It was test driven through to streets of Kampala last week. Jonathan Kasumba, a local resident who turned out to witness the green car’s virgin outing said this is the best thing that has come out of Uganda in a longtime.
“To me it is a great achievement, it is something I would personally say, it’s a change to the norm, everybody thinks this is from outside, this is from outside, now they can see, it is coming from within,”
The prototype for Kiira EV cost around 35,000 US dollars but engineers say that cost could be bought down to as little as 15,000 US dollars when it is mass produced.
Meanwhile, its designers already have their sights set on expanding the brand to include bigger vehicles. Paul Musasizi lead EV kiira engineering team.
“You know Uganda is well endowed with solar energy, we would like to tap that and put it into that commuter bus so that is where our energies are focused now that we know we can build a car, that one we have done, that one is history”.
The car was assembled by a team of eight engineers, supervised by one of Uganda’s leading professors in electrical engineering and computing, Tickodri Togboa. It was funded mostly by a government grant given to the engineering department to propel technological research over a period of five years.
Mukibi Dan, a Ugandan environmental activist says the car represents an important milestone for Uganda, not only demonstrating a level of commitment to top level teaching and design in Kampala but also an assurance that green issues are high on the agenda.
“The issues as we talk now is about environmental protection and I think this prototype, being that it is not going to use fossil fuel as it were to be able to move, I think it is an innovation that as a citizen and an environmental activist am proud off,”.
The car is yet to be fitted with a speedometer or a system to power its electric windows, but according to students they have already had requests from interested members of the public hoping to buy one when they hit the shops sometime in the future.