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Volkswagen plans integrated mobility concept in Rwanda; vehicle production in Kenya

Volkswagen is taking a further step to develop market potentials in Africa. The Hon. Francis Gatare, Director of the Rwanda Development Board, and Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa, this week signed a memorandum of understanding for a new integrated mobility concept in Kigali in the presence of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen brand.

Volkswagen also this week inaugurated a vehicle production facility in Kenya. At the inauguration, Diess underlined Kenya’s key role within the Volkswagen brand’s Africa strategy: “After over 60 years of Volkswagen vehicle production in South and North Africa, I am delighted to now have a further site in Kenya. We will systematically continue to develop our position in the fast-growing African car market.

Rwanda. The concept provides for app-based mobility solutions such as car-sharing and ride-hailing to be offered in Rwanda. For this purpose, an environmentally compatible local vehicle production facility is to be established in the capital city Kigali to cover vehicle demand for the integrated mobility concept. In addition, possibilities of training initiatives for the local population are being investigated together with other German companies.

Volkswagen says that Rwanda is well-suited to be a pioneer of new mobility solutions as it has a population of young tech-savvy people and its capital Kigali is seen as the most connected city in Africa.

Volkswagen is consistently developing market potentials in Africa. Only a few hours ago, we inaugurated our third production facility in Africa in Kenya. In Rwanda, we are launching a concept that will foster individual mobility in this rapidly developing country and make this market a further pillar of the Volkswagen brand’s commitment to Africa.

—Thomas Schäfer

The concept includes car sharing and ride hailing services as well as the establishment of a local production facility in accordance with the environmental standards of Volkswagen’s Think Blue. Factory. initiative. The vehicles required for the new mobility solutions in Rwanda are to be taken entirely from local production. Volkswagen South Africa is forging ahead with this initiative in Rwanda together with Volkswagen’s Kenyan partner DT Dobie based on current experience from the establishment of production in Kenya.

Volkswagen’s commitment to Rwanda also includes the training of local people. The possibility of cooperation for the establishment of a technical academy is being investigated together with other German companies. In the long term, the objective is to generate employment, know-how transfer and sustainable growth.

With the integrated mobility concept, Volkswagen intends to provide a new impetus for the development of individual mobility. Rwanda does not have an established vehicle industry. The population has an average age of less than 20 years and Rwandans are among the early adopters of new technologies. In addition, Rwanda is strongly committed to sustainable energy production. In the medium term, Volkswagen also plans to investigate the use of electric vehicles such as the e-up!1 or the e-Golf.

Kenya. With the CKD production of the bestselling car model in the sub-Saharan region—the Polo Vivo—Volkswagen is stepping up its commitment to Africa. In addition to vehicle production, Volkswagen will be offering Kenyan customers a comprehensive package including a manufacturer’s guarantee as well as a maintenance and service plan. Financing schemes will be developed together with local banks in order to allow individual mobility and to provide Volkswagen with the impetus it needs for its re-entry to the Kenyan market.

The joint project implemented together with DT Dobie in Thika near to the Kenyan capital Nairobi is Volkswagen’s third production plant in Africa, together with one plant in South Africa and one in Nigeria. In the initial phase, annual production of up to 1,000 vehicles is planned. In the long term, it will be possible to produce up to 5,000 units per year at the plant of Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM). The assembly facility is flexibly designed and offers the possibility of investigating the production of further models in the event of positive developments in the new car market. In addition, the Volkswagen Group recently announced plans to start vehicle production in Algeria.

For the start of production at Thika, the employees are being trained by Volkswagen Group South Africa. This will ensure that all vehicles have constant high quality levels. Volkswagen is also investigating possible approaches for the establishment of a sustainable, practically oriented training initiative. Apart from school or academic training, young people are also to receive practical training in order to improve their employment prospects in the region as a whole.

Kenya is an opportunity market in Africa. The country has an outstanding position within the region of East Africa and has the most powerful economy in the East African Community (EAC) with a GDP of about US$63 billion. In addition, Kenya is a key transit country for trade throughout East Africa. The good economic relations between Kenya and Germany are also being continuously and strategically expanded by the two governments.

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