Volkswagen has officially started production in Rwanda, while also preparing to roll out its new mobility services as well as a sales and service retail outlet in the African country.
Thomas Schäfer, Volkswagen Group South Africa CEO and the executive responsible for the Sub-Sahara region, officially launched the project in Kigali in the presence of Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame.
VW says that in “a long-term perspective” it intends to play a “leading role in the emerging automotive industry in Africa”.
“Rwanda has great potential. The country is young, modern and hungry for individual mobility. With a package specifically tailored to the region comprising local vehicle production, new vehicle business and innovative mobility services, we intend to harness the opportunities for growth and create new opportunities. Rwanda can become a blueprint for other African and emerging market countries,” said Schäfer.
Local assembly of the latest-generation Polo and Passat has commenced, with Volkswagen again saying that “other models” are planned for the future. Initially, VW says it will build up to 1 000 vehicles per year at the plant, depending on demand and the success of its mobility fleet, with an annual production capacity of up to 5 000 units.
President Kagame said that “Africa does not need to be a dumping ground for second-hand cars, or second-hand anything”.
“In the long run, you end up paying a higher price anyway. If you can pay a high price for second-hand, why not pay a high price for something new? It is a simple choice. Africans, Rwandans, we deserve better. This is one way of showing how we can afford it. For these and other reasons, this promising partnership with Volkswagen is off to a good start,” he said.
As we’ve previously reported, at the centre of the project are app-based car sharing and ride hailing offerings that VW says will take individual mobility to a broader share of the population.
The project will kick off with community car sharing primarily aimed at companies in the capital of Kigali, with a ride hailing service expected to follow later in 2018 and “further mobility services” planned for 2019.
Ryan has spent most of his career in online media, writing about everything from sport to politics and other forms of crime. But his true passion – reignited by a 1971 Austin Mini Mk3 still tucked lifeless in a dark corner of his garage – is of the automotive variety.