Not so many civilians have sat in the same car with President Museveni, side by side. Even very few people have driven him.
35-year-old Paul Isaac Musasizi has; and when he starts to talk about it, he entertains no interruptions.
Paul is one of the leading brains behind the famous Kiira EV, the country’s much-anticipated first automobile industry.
In 2004, Paul was only a student, and doing some bit of teaching at Makerere’s College of Engineering.
Today he’s not easily reached. His schedule is so tight that nearly all meeting appointments with him have to be arranged via the switchboard.
“I could give you my mobile, but I won’t pick when you call,” he tells me before advising that I arrange with his office for an interview.
Paul has traversed the world and been to all the best car franchises of the first world, and together with celebrated Prof Stephens Tickodri-Togboa and few others, he intends to set up one such here in Uganda, as soon as 2018.
While journeying toward this, Paul’s mind keeps flashing back to November 24, 2011, when he drove president Museveni in the country’s first electric vehicle; the green Kiira EV.
“It was an honour, wasn’t it?,” he reckons. “It’s one thing that I can never fail to thank God for. There are so many excellent engineers out there, who would give anything for such an opportunity. I have that on my CV.”
Three years later, Paul and his team have added another improved five-seater hybrid Sedan called Kiira EV SMACK, which is powered by a rechargeable battery bank and a generator set for propulsion and battery charging, making it a self-sustaining system.
They intend to build and demolish about 20 more cars, in the process of refining and testing the brand that is anticipated to dominate the regional market no so many years from today.
The project has already been allocated a 100 acre piece of land in Jinja where there will sit a state of the art assembly plant and home of the Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) at a cost of up to Shs 1 trillion.
But where is all this money going to come from? Especially that government has committed only $70million to the project!
“We are going to get the money. From government and from elsewhere,” he says. “Every step we have made on this journey, Ugandans have been sceptical. But look where we are today.”
He adds, “We are going to keep pushing government to support us. This is a project that has the potential of transforming this nation forever. We now have about 380 Members of Parliament, how much money does government spend on them a year?
We believe that Uganda has the ability to fund its transport industry.”
Paul believes that transport is the most fundamental need, after food, water and shelter.
“A government that doesn’t take care of its transport sector is doomed because transport technology is very expensive. Imagine, how many cars does government import each year? What if these cars were made from here?”
At a price of $20,000 a piece, (about Sh50.6M today) a zealous Paul tells me the Kiira EV will certainly dominate the local and regional market.
“We are giving all to make this car the best. We want to refine it so that when someone parks a Toyota Premio Model 2018, and I pack my Kiira EV Smack, he feels out of place.
Kiira EV, Paul believes will be massive in the next first years: “In fifty years, we should have a fully fledged franchise with a complete product portfolio: Super cars, luxury cars, executive cars, compact cars, and then pickups, trucks, trailers etc,” he says.
“On top of that, we’ll also be pushing for our own technology, like making our engines and so on. And with that muscle, we should start venturing into developing technology for other forms of transport such as the rail, and marine.”