NAIROBI, (CAJ News)- THE continent’s first solar-powered bus, whose production is set for 2018, has been hailed as major breakthrough towards Africa’s commitment to the United Nations global Agenda for Sustainable Development for 2030 and validated Uganda as ready for automotive manufacturing and engineering.
The innovation has been one of the highlights of the second session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), at the just-concluded United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi.
Known as the Kayoola Solar Bus, it is a product of the Uganda-based Kiira Motors and a brainchild of the Makerere University under the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC), which is the investment arm of the Ugandan Government, as a presidential initiative for automotive manufacturing.
The Kayoola Solar Bus, produced in 2016 is one of the three concept vehicles produced by the Kiira Vehicle Technology Innovation Programme.
It is a 35-seater electric bus with zero tailpipe emissions, a range of 80 km, with latent range extension from the real-time charging enabled by the roof mounted solar panels.
One of its two batteries can be charged by solar panels on the roof which increases the vehicle’s 80km (50 mile) range.
The development of the Kayoola Solar Bus Concept represents the commitment of the Kiira Motors Project to championing the progressive development of local capacity for vehicle technology innovation, a key ingredient for institutionalizing a sustainable vehicle manufacturing industry in the East African country.
The solar bus, which makes the most of the abundance of sunlight in the country, is intended for urban areas than inter-city use because of the restrictions on the distance it can travel.
If it is mass produced, each bus would cost up to US$58 000.
Achim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the UN, is among delegates that toured the Kayoola Solar Bus during a tour of the Sustainable Innovations Expo, held at the sidelines of the UNEA conference where the bus was on showcase, in addition to being the official green transport partner for the UN conference.
Steiner expressed excitement and pride to see 21st century mobility technology being put “on the road in Africa, by Africans.”
“I challenge local investors in to invest in the fast growing green economy in Africa, as is exhibited through the production of environmentally friendly vehicles,” said Steiner.
Paul Isaac Musasizi, the Chief Executive Officer Kiira Motors, lauded the endorsement of Kayoola Solar Bus by the UNEP.
He committed to further engage the government and private sector for further policy and investment commitment.
NAIROBI: African countries have been urged to pursue policies aimed at fast-tracking integration of the continent into a global economy.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said it was time for Africa to pursue an economic integration agenda that would ensure the continent is at the centre of global economic growth.
“Countries should seek new partnerships and take advantage of emerging markets and opportunities and lower trade barriers to leverage
trade for sustainable development,” she said. Africa, she added, should expedite the process of building a Free Trade Area (FTA) currently at embryonic stage.
Mohamed said Heads of State are ready to initiate the negotiation process when they meet in South Africa in June for the forthcoming summit, a move she noted would demonstrate a high level political commitment by the African leaders that time is ripe for Africa to pursue its economic agenda and integrate fully into the global trading system as a focused entity.
“Such partnerships are in a category of their own by dint of their scope and their impact are most likely to create a symmetry in a global trade area,” she said at the opening session of the conference on mega trading blocks and the future of African trade at a Nairobi hotel yesterday.
She said it was crucial to interrogate potential impact of mega–regionals with a view to formulate requisite response on how such agreements are likely to affect all involved.
Mohamed said African economies need to urgently deepen domestic economic reforms, diversify markets and risk, build economies of scale, enhance competiveness, pursue export-led growth, and build global supply chains.
She said time for Africa to become a global standard maker was finally here to ensure the multilateral trade system was based on the criteria set in Africa.; “It is expected that an African wide Continental (CFTA) will become operational by 2017,” she added. “We need to strengthen the role and maintain the centrality of WTO in the trading system and not allow that role to be diluted,” she said. FREE TRADE She said Africans ought to build the dynamism, confidence and boldness that the noble idea and vision of free trade in Africa is now. “I know we can do it because our history has prepared us well,” she emphasised.
The CS said Africa now stands at monumental place with an opportunity that must not be missed, to make a significant impact and make her voice loud enough to be heard through the integration process.
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