Kampala — Kiira Motors Corporation has launched the first solar-powered bus that is intended to drive forward the automotive industry in Uganda.
The bus dubbed 'Kayoola' loosely translated as 'mass carrier' is powered by solar energy to make it environment friendly.
It depends on two power banks (lithium-ion batteries) which power an electric motor that is combined to a 2-speed pneumatic shift transmission.
The two power banks operate in automatic interchange to enable real time mobile battery rejuvenating while the other is in use.
Mr Isaa Musasizi, the chief executive officer of Kiira Motors Corporation, told journalists during the test drive at Namboole stadium on Sunday that Kayoola was built at a cost of Shs500 million.
With a sitting capacity of 35 passengers, the bus has a power capacity of 150KW (204HP) peak and solar power of 1,320W.
The solar panels on the roof yield energy to run the bus on a range of 80kms about 8 hours of uninterrupted drive.
"Uganda is privileged to be among the 13 countries in the whole world that are situated along the equator. We decided to take advantage of this strategic position to improve transport technology," Mr Musasizi said.
He observed that most features on the bus are locally sourced and were brought together by a team of about 100 Ugandans who did the wielding, spraying, and wiring, among others.
"The body is typically our roofing material and was worked on by hand. Also, the battery banks, which are stainless steel, were also invented here. Uganda owns refined skills to deliver automotives today," Mr Musasizi added.
Prof Sandy Stevens Tickodri, the Minister of Higher Education Science and Technology, who presided over the test drive, said Kayoola will go a long way in addressing Uganda's mass conveyance problem.
"We have buses all over the world but Ugandans must be proud to be championing a technology that represents clean energy," said Prof Tickdori who birthed the idea of manufacturing Uganda's first electronic car Kiira EV while still a don at Makerere University.
He added that the innovation has raised the regional standard, adding that the project has set a green precedence and motivation trend for technological advancement in urban mobility for East and Central Africa.
President Museveni is set to officially launch the Kayoola solar bus on February 16 at Kampala Serena Hotel.