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Makerere University is no stranger to controversy, this time around, it’s about a group of Professors who stole a final year project from one of their students. It was a case of a supervisor taking over the brain work of one of their students and claiming it as their own. Put simply, it’s the biggest idea of theft in the history of modern Uganda.
But how did it all start? It all started in 2011 when a young Makerere University student, Steven Jeremy Ntambi approached his lecturer to commercialize his dream of a Ugandan made electric vehicle. Ntambi approached Professor Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa and shared his idea that had been in the pipeline since 2008/9.
In 2009, Ntambi had graduated from Makerere University with a first-class degree in Electrical Engineering.
Kiira EV Project: Ntambi leads Makerere team to the next-generation car
He had also led a group of eleven students to build Uganda’s first-ever environment-friendly and a most cost-effective vehicle that later turned to be known as Kiira EV Project. It was heralded as the next-generation car.
The car was presented in Italy at the World Design Exposition. After the expo, President Museveni then offered to fund this project all the way to commercial manufacturing. It’s here that Prof. Tickodri came back in the picture despite having scoffed at the project earlier.
“During the work, Paul Isaac Musasizi always scoffed at the project and mentioned that it was impossible, and I was being too ambitious…during the time we worked, I have labeled a fraud and always threatened to remember he supervised my final project as a student. After we had the project delivered in Italy with global teams, Museveni agreed to support this project. And immediately Professor Tickodri and Paul Isaac Musaazi claimed to have had this dream,” Ntambi narrates.
Upon his return from Italy, Ntambi reached out to Professor Tickodri who had then met the President and taken over the project and the funds. Musanze would go on to install himself as the CEO of Kiira Motor Corporation. It is at this point also that Professor Tickodri vehemently warned Ntambi off the project and warned him never to set foot anywhere close to this electric vehicle. As they say, the rest is history.
It turns out, that the Professor and Paul used the opportunity when Ntambi was pursuing his masters to carry out a coup d’etat. They presented themselves to the president as the ideators of this grand project. Ntambi would be sidelined as just another former student that had worked under them at Kiira EV Project.