University Professors Not Practical – Tickodri Explains Working With Students on Electric Car

Kiira Motors Corporation Executive Chairman Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa has explained that he chose to work with students when developing Uganda’s electric vehicles because he wanted fresh minds.

Professor Tickodri, was a lecturer at Makerere University when he reportedly got the idea of a Ugandan-made electric car as early as 2007. But implementation of the idea did not start until 2014 when “Africa’s first electric vehicle” was developed under the Kiira Electric Vehicle Project in 2011 starting with the Kiira EVS hybrid car and the solar electric bus, the Kayoola Solar Bus in 2016.

Tickodri says he decided to work with students who would listen and try out what they had been told. He says he took up the job as part of the pioneer leadership of Gulu University for similar reasons because he wanted to start something new, but three years later, he realized they were doing the same thing.

He resigned and found himself at Makerere again, where he later started work in the automotive industry with one of the students being Eng. Paul Musasizi, the current KMC CEO. 

However, some engineers have previously claimed that the car was one of their projects while preparing for their graduation at Makerere and that their lecturers shortchanged them and claimed its ownership.

In an earlier interview, Prof Tickodri said that the project was abandoned by the students and that the University management later encouraged him to revive it promising to help him.

He was speaking at the closing of the National Science Week at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds, where he had been called by Vice President Jessica Alupo to explain why he did not team up with fellow professors. Alupo, who represented President Yoweri Museveni intended to show the importance of collaboration between young innovators and experienced professionals.

She hailed those who have made their innovations on their own out of university. 

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Monica Musenero said one of the ideas behind science week was to create a sense of responsibility in Uganda’s private sector when producing goods and services.

This, according to her, is because Uganda is getting more involved in the international market with newer innovations, hence the need to ensure that whatever is produced in the country is of the required global standards. She said that it is because of the noncommercial view of science previously that many Ugandan innovations have not been developed as the country continues to rely on imports, a trend which must change.

Ramathan Ggoobi, the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development said the country had wasted too much time instead of focusing on the future. He says that until Uganda finds its step, it will continue lagging behind especially as digital innovation rules global development.  

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