Museveni Warns Kanungu on Land Fragmentation

Kanungu women entertaining Museveni at Rwakitura this week

With a project worth Shs 1 trillion glaring at him from the palm of his hand, visit Makerere University’s Prof Sandy Stephens Tickodri-Togboa stands on the verge of leapfrogging Uganda to a modern car-making economy, physician or becoming the biggest laughing stock in the country’s history.

So far he has proven a point or two. With a small capital of Sh 400 million, Tickodri researched and produced the first ever Ugandan electric vehicle, which was launched by President Yoweri Museveni on November 24 2011.

Two weeks later the two met at State House in Nakasero and discussed at length on how to proceed with the KIIRA EV project to commercialization and industrialization.

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As of today, the Engineering professor and his team have come up with a second and more improved prototype called the Kiira EV SMACK — a five-seater Sedan which is powered by a rechargeable battery and also has an internal combustion engine-based generator which charges the battery.

Government has already pledged full support to the project and has allocated a 100 acre piece of land on which the Kiira Motor Corporation (KMC) will be established in Jinja. As early as 2018, the first brand new locally made commercial vehicle is expected to emerge out of the assembly.

Chimpreports’ Sam Waswa caught up with Prof Tickodri and he told us about the project’s future plans, market strategies and also had a word or two for his increasing critics.

Chimpreports: Your first car was to be powered by electricity. Why now bring in a fuel engine in this new brand?

Tickodri: We realized that Uganda didn’t have enough electricity infrastructure where people would be charging their vehicles and that it would be overly time-wasting. That’s why we came up with the KIIRA EV SMACK which has an internal combustion engine. Its purpose is to run a generator that charges the battery, which runs the vehicle.

Chimpreports: Where does SMACK come in?

Tickodri: That’s St Mary’s College Kisubi. Their students, having won an IT competition in 2012, came up with ideas on how to make the vehicle intelligent (in-vehicle communication). So we incorporated some of their ideas and that’s how we came up with the name.

Chimpreports: What’s the cost of this project up to the production stage?

Tickodri: There’s certainly a lot of work to be done. We have benchmarked with General Motors and some big American companies and established that getting KIIRA EVE SMACK on the road, we need up to a tune of $350 – 450million.

Chimpreports: Tell us more about the Kiira Motor Corporation plant.

Tickodri:  Government through Uganda Investment Authority gave us about 100 acres of land in Jinja, where the plant will be established.

It will hold many structures including the Assembly plant, administrative blocks, an infirmary, an innovative technology center among others. We expect construction to commence in 2016. I assure you this has nothing to do with the elections (chuckles).

Chimpreports: You must have seen a myriad of criticisms about this project. People think that you have not started from the basics. Others say the car project doesn’t address Uganda’s pertinent problems.

Tickodri: I am creating employment. I do not know of any way of transforming this economy better than providing employment. What we are engaged in is that you need tyres; someone must produce these tiyres, wheels, headlights, wipers and so on. I have a Mukiga friend of mine, an S4 dropout. He is the one who is making seats for that vehicle. If you look at them they are as good as those in my Jaguar.

Chimpreports: What size of employment are we looking at here?

Tickodri: The conceptualized production plant will be producing 840 vehicles per month, so we are looking at about 500 jobs for highly trained engineers at the plant, and thousands of others outside.

Uganda's finest and most innovative engineering Professor

Uganda’s finest and most innovative engineering Professor

Chimpreports: Let’s look at the pricing of this indigenous car.

Tickodri: Once we go into the engineering, we’ll incorporate all this, but I think that a brand new car before taxation, will cost somewhere between $20,000-40,000 each.

I hope that we can appeal to government for some tax waivers–may be for the first 5,000 vehicles.

Chimpreports: What more would you like to see out of this car project.

I want the KIIRA EV to help Ugandans start thinking outside the box. To start envisaging going to the moon.  As NASA is to the American children, I want Ugandan children to visit this plant, come out and tell their parents; “dad, i want to study hard and come and work here.”

Chimpreports: Any word to the critics of the Kiira EV?

I have stopped answering to critics. Let them not ask me why I am not making needles. I think that’s an unfair question to ask to a professor like me. When Russians sent men to the space in the late fifties, President Kennedy came out in 1961 and said, “How can Russians go there before us.?” He said America must prepare its generation to go to the space: and indeed they did later in 1969. I think that Ugandans should do the same.
President Yoweri Museveni has called on the people of Kanungu to fight land fragmentation saying land, sale a key asset, web once fragmented affects large-scale production.

He urged those with little land to exploit it by investing in high values crops including coffee, information pills fruits etc for food and incomes.

The President was this week speaking to over 100 women under their umbrella body the Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Orphans (UWESO) who paid a courtesy call on him at Rwakitura, Kiruhura district.

Led by the woman MP for Kanungu district Elizabeth Karungi, the women carried gifts for the President and also took time to dance and sing for him, thanked him for the peace and development in their region.

“Government has worked on infrastructure like roads and electricity but you cannot benefit from these if you are poor. You must have enterprises that can enable you earn some money like growing fruits, coffee, poultry, keeping etc that you can sell and get some income,” he said.

The President pledged to immediately follow up the issue of refurbishing the Bwindi Community hospital through the Ministry of Health.

He also directed his staff to follow up the issue of two buses government pledged to Kihihi High School and Bishop Comboni College in Kambuga, Kanungu district.

The Woman MP Elizabeth Karungi, hailed the President for always mobilizing the women to improve their livelihoods.

She urged the President to push for the opening up of a road between Rubuguri in Kisoro and Buhoma in Kanungu that goes around the national park, saying this will enable tea farmers between the two biggest factories to transport their produce faster.


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