UGANDA UNVEILS AFRICA'S FIRST SOLAR-POWERED BUS

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(CNN)  “In Uganda, we have non-stop sun,” he says. “No other countries manufacturing vehicles are on the equator like Uganda. We should celebrate that, and make a business out of it.”

The 35-seater bus, known as the “Kayoola”, can travel up to 50 miles straight and is powered by two batteries. One is connected to solar panels on the roof, while the other is charged electrically for longer distances and journeys at night.

Musasizi says it takes just one hour to fully charge each battery, making the vehicle suitable for “all sorts of duties in the cities”, such as school buses or longer-haul journeys across borders.

Kiira Motors recently made a prototype of the bus, and ran a test drive near the national stadium in Kampala. The Kayoola debut is big news for the country, whose President Yoweri Museveni will attend the launch.

Using the sun to power a nation

The bus is just the beginning of a bigger ambition Musasizi has to kick start Uganda’s solar-powered automobile industry. His vision includes every gas station in Uganda having solar pumps to charge vehicles instead of fuel.

The Kayoola solar bus prototype costs $140,000 to produce, but it would come with a significantly lower price tag of $45,000 if mass-produced.

Kiira Motors, fully-owned by the government, gets funding from a scheme known as the Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology. Musasizi said he hopes to attract investors interested in green energy for funding and future staff training.

Musasizi currently employs 32 people, but hopes to have 200 employees by 2021. The initial plans are to produce 50 buses a year, eventually supplying pick-up trucks, sedans, light and medium duty trucks and buses to East Africa and beyond.

“Our passion for automobiles will help us develop solar motor technology,” he adds. “I’m hoping that as we go by, we’ll become known as the innovation hub for solar transportation technology in the world.”

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