Engineers at Uganda’s Kiira Motors have unveiled Africa’s first solar powered bus.
Known as “ Kayoola,” the bus uses two batteries that can be charged using solar panels fitted on the vehicle’s roof.
It can travel a distance of up to 80 kilometres and can complete a trip to the country’s international airport in Entebbe and back to Kampala when fully charged.
The Kayoola bus is the first electric and let alone first solar bus to be built in Africa.
The prototype was built by over 60 staff, 12 engineers and artisans.
Chief Executive Officer of Kiira Motors, Paul Isaac Musasizi said the bus has a power train architecture which enables primary and secondary energy storage.
“The Kayoola bus is the first electric and let alone first solar bus to be built in Africa. What makes this bus pretty different from the ordinary buses we have on the roads today is that it is an electric bus. It is a battery electric vehicle meaning that we use energy stored in batteries as charge which is converted into mechanical energy by a motor which is multiplied by a transmission to give us the propulsion we need at the differential unit,” Musasizi explained.
A study by the UN estimated that the world’s electricity needs could be met by harvesting solar power from an 800 kilometer square area in the Sahara desert.
The International Energy Agency in a 2014 report said the sun could – with a radical shift in investments – be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050.
Kayoola produces no fumes as it runs on clean energy and makes less noise.
Musasizi said the bus will create employment opportunities for thousands of Ugandans once operations commence on various routes.
The production cost for one bus is estimated at about $58,000.
The automobile industry is the main source of air pollution in Africa. According to a 2012 World Health Organization survey, air pollution causes an estimated 176,000 premature deaths annually in Africa.