As Uganda aims to position itself at the forefront of the global giants in electric vehicle industry and realize a vision of e-mobility through Kiira Motors Corporation, President Yoweri Museveni has announced that Uganda’s lithium will not be exported to the outside world.
“We have designed, and we are making our own electric vehicles, electric buses, minibuses which we call Kiira, and we are struggling to make lithium batteries here because we have the lithium. Our lithium will not be exported; we shall make the batteries here. So, if you get me investors (I have some, but if you get me more), then we will use the lithium batteries in our own vehicles, and export others for other people. So, that is another area you can help me get some investors,” said Museveni while dressing investors at the Uganda – South Africa Trade and Investment Summit in Kampala on Wednesday.
Lithium is a key component in the batteries that power electric vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of battery used in electric vehicles, and they offer a number of advantages over other types of batteries, such as a higher energy density and longer lifespan.
As the demand for electric vehicles grows, so does the demand for lithium. Lithium is now considered to be a critical mineral, and there are concerns about the global supply of lithium being able to meet the growing demand.
The world produced 540,000 metric tons of lithium in 2021, and by 2030 the World Economic Forum projects that global demand will reach over 3 million metric tons. This gap is expected to widen in the coming years, as the transition to electric vehicles accelerates.
The record sales figures, contained within the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook for 2023 show that electric car sales surged by 55% last year to surpass 10 million.
“Electric car sales — including battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) — exceeded 10 million last year, up 55% relative to 2021,” the IEA’s report reads in part.
This figure is expected to grow even further.
Meanwhile, at the Uganda – South Africa Trade and Investment Summit in Kampala, Museveni blamed global powers for poverty on the African continent, saying that though Africa is a mineral rich continent, its resources have been plundered by the global economic powers.
“Take an example of Niger. Apparently, Niger has been exporting to France uranium, and the clever French people use the uranium to generate electricity for themselves from nuclear energy. How about your friends in Niger, no electricity? They are getting the little electricity from Nigeria. But you the wonderful Christians, the French, why would you take all the uranium from Niger, and you don’t even build for them one nuclear plant. What sort of people are you?” he said.
He added: “we have uranium here [in Uganda]. Some months ago, some clever man came. He was from Canada, and said, I want to take uranium to Canada. I said [to him] I am not as ignorant as I look. I know you want my uranium for generating electricity and for agriculture, but I have heard a rumour that there are human beings here in Uganda. So, before you take it to make electricity for others, first make it for me here, then I can get some extra for you to take. Up to now, not a single kilogram of uranium has ever been taken to Uganda.”
Museveni called for exportation of value added products and ban on exportation of raw materials.
“If you take coffee, the global value of coffee business is 460 billion dollars, but all the coffee growing countries in the world share only 25 billion dollars of the 460 billion. And Africa takes only 2.5 billion dollars. And that is the same story for iron ore, copper etc. Because of that, and the population growing, you get the crises that you are seeing in many of the African countries. Many of the African countries cannot even be able to fund the army, they have no money,” he said.
“Recently, 68% of the people [in Uganda] were out of the money economy. We had to bring in the army to distribute coffee seedlings for these people – villagers to join the money economy by growing coffee. Now the figure of people outside the money economy is 39%. The ones in the money economy is 61%, and we want everybody to join the money economy,” said Museveni.