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From selling mangoes, Kayiira assembled a car

By Samuel Lutwama

Added 2nd March 2020 04:25 PM

Despite dropping out of school at an early age, Moses Kayiira found his niche in motor vehicle mechanics and innovation.

From selling mangoes, Kayiira assembled a car

Kayiira with one of his cars at Vision Group head office in Kampala recently. ( File Photo)

Despite dropping out of school at an early age, Moses Kayiira found his niche in motor vehicle mechanics and innovation.

Charlie Munger once said: "Opportunity comes to a prepared mind." This is true for Moses Kayiira, the director of Bakayiira Garage, after striving to create a source of livelihood for himself as a mechanic with a thriving garage at, Katwe in Kampala.

Despite dropping out of school at an early age, Moses Kayiira found his niche in motor vehicle mechanics and innovation.

 In 2008, his opportunity to upgrade his mechanical spectrum came when he participated in a Pepsi-Cola promotion ticket draw sponsored by Crown Beverages. He walked away with an air ticket to watch an English Premier League football match in England, with a six-month visa, which he used to widen his mechanical knowledge. 

While in England, he pursued a motor assembling course at Blackburn College in London. Unfortunately, he did not complete the two-year course because of financial constraints. 

 ome of the youth under ayiiras stewardship                                      Some of the youth under Kayiira's stewardship

When he returned, he started assembling his own car under his garage Bakayiira Diesel Garage in Kibuye, a city suburb. He has assembled two cars: Uganda 1 and Uganda 2, an innovation that has thrust him to the limelight. He also gave birth to the Youth Mechanical Skills Empowerment and Learning Centre.


Born in a poverty-stricken family, with limited education, he managed to get past his limitations to innovate and create his destiny.

 Kayiira was born 38 years ago, at Kiganda, Kooki in Rakai district. He is the second last born in a family of eight children. 

His father, Rokobowamu Nyanzi, who was the Gombola Chief of Kiganda Kooki, died when he was about three years of age. His mother, Margaret Nyanzi, struggled to educate them up to Primary Seven. 

She, however, was burdened while Kayiira was in Primary Six. Kayiira tried to educate himself, but in 1993, he dropped out of school before he completed Senior One. 

The dropping out signified the start of his life of struggle. "I started selling mangoes and doing all kinds of casual labour in the village," Kayiira recalls. 

In 1994, he travelled to Kampala and started working in Nyondo Garage, which was around Lubiri Barracks, where he honed his skills in mechanics. 

Abdul Nyondo, the owner of the garage, took him up as an apprentice.

 "Mzee Nyondo taught me all the necessary skills of being a good mechanic and, soon, many clients acknowledged my expertise, which led me to start my own garage," he says. 

During his stint at Nyondo garage, he became one of the most sought after mechanics. His speciality at the time was fixing car engines, vehicle realignment and colour spraying. 


In 2005, armed with sh1.5m savings, he opened up a makeshift workshop, which was opposite Muganzirwaza building in Katwe. 

  section of ayiiras garage workshop                                              A section of Kayiira's garage workshop

"I opened my first garage, which I named Bakayiira Diseal Garage, using my personal savings. My past had taught me not to waste money. I paid sh400,000 as ground rent for the place where I constructed a makeshift workshop, which cost sh1.1m," he says. 

He established a client base that helped him to market his garage. Kayiira had a desire to learn car diagnostics, but it looked like a dream, until the opportunity to go to Europe beckoned.


In 2008, Kayiira participated in a Pepsi promotion. In August 2008, Kayiira was of the lucky winners in the Chumuka Promotions. 

"Before my visa expired, I looked for something that I could do, then through interaction, I learnt about a car assembling course at Blackburn College, which was close to where I was staying in London. I joined the institution using the money I was receiving from my garage in Kampala," he says. 

"While at the college, I nursed a dream of assembling my own car," he says "Being a student with so many other students with better education standing gave me the exposure and experience," Kayiira says. 

He dropped out after one year because of financial constraints. He later moved the garage to a bigger place, where he opened a youth training academy. 


It took him four years after returning from Europe, to bring out his first innovation of assembled car. In 2012 after spending close to sh40m, although he did not try to reinvent the wheel using his innovations, Kayiira unveiled his first assembled car: Uganda 1. 

"I named my first assembled car Uganda 1 because I thought it was the first of its kind — assembled by an indigenous Ugandan single-handedly, using available car spare parts, which I bought and transformed into my desired innovation," he says. 

"I used the sh40m to buy the materials I needed, such as iron sheets, tyres, headlights, gearbox and engine parts," he adds. The car was a product of different parts of other car and motorcycle brands.

When it was unveiled to the public in 2012, the Kabaka graced and sat in it during the Kabaka Trade show in Mengo. It was later taken to the Uganda Manufacturers Association trade show in Lugogo, Kampala. 

"I will forever cherish the day the Kabaka sat in it and when I got the presidential nod over my innovation," Kayiira says. 

In 2015, he modified the car. "We thrive on copying and improving. For instance, Uganda 2, has plastic paint, which I copied from China.

I bought a machine which recycles plastic waste and converts it into other products, such as vehicle paints," he says. 

His second innovation, Uganda 2, which was an improvement of Uganda 1, was an internet sensation. 

According to Maj. Judith Assimwe, the patron of Ghetto Youth Innovators National Resistance Movement wing, President Yoweri Museveni commissioned Uganda 2 on October 26, 2019, and requested Kayiira to present his proposal, which is yet to be submitted. 

However, Kayiira says his budget to set up a mechanical workshop is sh6b that would house the youth training academy and mechanics but is worried about the red tape involved in accessing the presidential pledge. 

After posting Uganda 2 on the Internet, his innovation attracted the attention of other innovators in the field. It was about that time, he was contacted to attend Automechanika Johannesburg in South Africa, a trade fair for the automotive service industry, which targets innovators around the world.

He had to airlift his car to South Africa and showcase it, but he could not because of lack of funds. He used a PowerPoint presentation. It was during Automechanika Johannesburg that he received volunteers who promised to airlift Uganda 2 to yet another Automechanika Johannesburg. 

He is expected to attend Automechanika Istanbul in Turkey in April. It is expected to draw close to 50,000 visitors. 


 In 2010, a year after his return from Europe, he started a youth training academy, which was a replica of the European version of the handson knowledge he learnt, while at Blackburn College.

He says his experience of dropping out of school early gives him the urge to give back to society through a youth training academy, which he says started with 12 youth. 

"I equip the youth with handson skills, beginning with the basic mechanic work. Many have gone on to upgrade to as far as striving to learn about car assembling," Kayiira says. 

"Today, my garage employs eight permanent workers and caters for 45 trainees under the academy," he says.


 Kayiira says his biggest challenge is financing. He urges the Government to bankroll innovators. He says he has sacrificed many projects in the name of pursuing his innovation dreams.

 For instance, the construction of his residential house was put on hold. He adds that his innovative concept has not been well-appreciated, yet it requires a lot of resources to implement.


Kayiira counts international exposure as one of the achievements he has attained in his innovative work. "My work has given exposure to mechanical innovative minds around the world.

I have also been able to construct some rental houses, buy a plot of land and I have bought a car.


 I plan to set up a storeyed building that will house the training academy and an engineering workshop.


Who says someone with a difficult past cannot rescript his or her destiny? Youth should come out of their cocoons and think outside the box. 

The youth should be innovative as they try to find their niche. There is always something that someone is gifted at, but it takes searching it out and then pursuing it.

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