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Govt should pass national policy to spur automotive industry

President Museveni Kayoola EV bus

President Museveni Kayoola EV bus

As we usher in the year 2022 amid a resilient Covid-19 pandemic, the fourth industrial revolution is also taking shape with the global $9 trillion automotive industry quickly shifting to electric mobility technologies to mitigate the widespread effects of climate change.

Last year, over 11 million registered electric vehicles, including cars, buses, vans and trucks were on the road across the world. This number is projected to rise to 145 million by the end of the decade.

Luckily for Uganda and Africa in general, this new global trend for software-enabled forms of e-mobility might not leave us behind as the case was with the past industrial revolutions.

Several African countries can be credited for attempting to keep within touching distance with the more advanced world to deploy clean energy–efficient electric vehicles and phase out the internal - combustion engine (ICE) cars by the year 2030. And this is just eight years away.

Uganda, South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria and Mauritius are among the early leaders in the EV market and this is one milestone that should be celebrated across the African continent.

At least for once, Africa is moving in tandem with the rest of the world to deploy its home-grown e-mobility technologies that will help the continent to have a fair share of the multi-trillion global car market.

Uganda, together with other EAC regional governments, should seize the opportunity in 2022 to pronounce itself and offer clear road maps on greening our cities by promoting clean and efficient e-mobility solutions. Kampala and many other African cities are ranked among the most polluted in the world due to the dumping of end-of-life secondhand used vehicles.

As many developed nations set 2030 as the year to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, only one African country – Cape Verde - has taken definitive steps to phase out the of ICE cars by 2035.

In Uganda, Kiira Motors Corporation, the state enterprise and industry captains in the development of the country’s nascent automotive industry have been at the forefront of developing e-mobility technologies that have resulted in the deployment of electric vehicles - the Kayoola fully electric buses - that are now offering shuttle services for employees of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.

Subsequently, a draft Automotive Industry Development Policy has been crafted to shape the destiny of Uganda’s multi-billion automotive industry. Unfortunately, this blueprint is yet to be discussed and passed by cabinet.

This means that whereas Kiira Motors and other two and three-wheeler electric motorcycle producers like Zembo, Boadwerk and International University of East Africa (IUEA) have taken the initiative to ensure that Uganda is at close quarters with other e-mobility champions across the world, there is still no clear government plan to align the country to the global mobility trends.

Perhaps this is the reason why there is relatively slow adoption of EVs in Uganda and EAC region, which still face  infrastructural challenges like the lack of public e-charging systems (apparently KMC has the only three available e-chargers) in the country.

Government should in the year 2022 pass and implement the Automotive Industry Development Policy and other attendant laws.

There is a need for the development of a national charging infrastructure for electric mobility, which should be connected to the national grid at affordable rates to phase out the high polluting end-of-life vehicles in Uganda by 2030.

Kiira Motors and other start-up companies like Zembo and Bodawerk that have worked against all odds to bring the electric-car revolution to the streets of Kampala with the production of electric-vehicle fleets and motorcycles need to be supported by government by putting in place a robust - conducive environment that will facilitate the development of  the country’s automotive industry.

msserwanga@gmail.com

The writer is a media and communications consultant and advocate of the High court.

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