As a peasant boy in rural Uganda, Junior Africa has always dreamt of becoming an electrical engineer.
After many hard years his family have gone through in supporting his education, it was all joy in the hilly village when he was admitted to do an electrical engineering course at Uganda’s top university, Makerere University to pursue studies on clean energy for automotives.
It has all beared fruit, as Africa is one of the engineers putting final touches to allegedly Africa’s first solar-powered bus.
He has been at the core of building the bus owing to his specialty in electrical engineering.
The bus, named “Kayoola”, is owned by Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), a state owned company created to start motor vehicle manufacturing in the east African country. The corporation was birthed at Makerere University in the engineering department where it first made an electrical two-seater car.
The snow white colored bus is a 37-seater with a rack of solar panels fixed on its roof.
The bus, which is still a prototype, can be charged using solar energy or plugged into power.
It is designed to serve as an executive city bus and covers a distance of 80 km without recharge of the panels.
The engineers argue that the bus offers a smoother and cleaner ride unlike the usual diesel powered engines.
The bus is due to be unveiled on Feb. 16.
Experts argue that if the bus goes into commercial production, it will cut down on emissions that are affecting the environment.
“This bus has zero-tail pipe exhaust, it is eco-friendly, there is no emissions in terms of noise and gases,” said Albert Akovuku, Vice President Production, KMC.
The experts believe the solar powered bus is another step that shows the country is ready for automotive engineering and technology innovation. The country has already produced two concept vehicles, Kiira EV (two seater) and Kiira Smack (sedan).
The managers at KMC said that after having these three concept vehicles, they are working on setting up a manufacturing plant in Jinja, eastern part of the country.
Critics argue that while the innovation is eco-friendly, they are concerned that the cost of production is likely to be high compared to the fuel engines.
The engineers have not yet put a figure to the cost of production but they argue that once commercial production starts, the cost will greatly go down compared to the production of the prototype.