The Kayoola : Africa’s Solar-Powered Bus

Africa’s solar-powered bus

Africa designed and manufactured the Kayoola, its own solar-powered bus.  The first solar bus was Australia’s Tindo. Uganda’s own green energy bus is unique in some design features, and because it is manufactured in Africa, for Africa.

If you would like a closer look, there is a short video clip of the Kayoola taken as it set off for Kampala to be test driven.  Link below.


Solar powered vehicles in Uganda

Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri, Uganda’s Minister of Higher Education –  Science and Technology, nurtured the idea that resulted in the Kiira EV (Uganda’s first electronic car) while teaching at Makerere University.  He has been a driving force (forgive the pun) for the vision of finding a green answer to meeting the ever-growing demand for public transport in Africa.

The Kayoola does look promising, and Ugandans have leveraged the skills they honed in producing their electronic car to create this new 35 seater bus.  It has an impressive 80km range (around 8 hours of driving), powered by solar panels on the roof.  Dual power banks switch from one to the other to facilitate real-time battery recharging, and the equatorial sun does the rest!

Kayoola translates loosely as mass carrier – Who cares what it means?  It’s fun to say the word & that’s what matters

The batteries are lithium-ion – Yes, the same thing that keeps your mobile going.  They power a motor coupled to a 2-speed shift transmission.  Power capacity?  Solar power is 1320kw, peak is 150kw (204HP)  No questions please, I am not a professor and I am quoting numbers that I do not understand.

Kiira Motors Corporation are launching the Kayoola as part of their quest to lead and drive the automotive industry in Uganda. Although not stated, it seems likely that they have the rest of the continent features heavily in their future plans.  The company has invested heavily in technology to make the most of the free energy that the area enjoys in abundance.

Kiira has been looking at other possibilities.  They had planned for the Kiira Smack, a petrol-electric hybrid vehicle to be market ready in the next few years.  Due to the irregularity of the local electric supply, shifting the focus to pure solar makes sense because it will not effect the already struggling grid.  The world market anyway for these hybrid vehicles is still very limited, and this keeps them costly.

Features for the bus have drawn from local supply wherever possible. The vehicle is assembled by a team of Ugandans. Vehicle roofing material used on other projects has been used to build the bus body.   The welding, spraying, wiring and other jobs are done by Ugandans who have developed and polished their automotive skills during previous projects.

This vehicle has set a precedence and a challenge now to other countries on the continent and beyond. it demonstrates how technology can be clean, even in developing countries.

This project is fully funded by Government of Uganda. Kiira Motors aims to establish and grow Ugandan manufacturing capabilities to expand the range to include Pickups, SUVs, Sedans, Light and Medium duty trucks as well as these and future Buses.  The company will be looking to attract investment worldwide to grow the business.

President Museveni will officiate at the formal launch of the Kayoola solar bus set for 16 February.  Feel free to visit the website for any further information of updates.


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