The tiny country of Rwanda is now producing factory-fresh Volkswagen cars from its rolling hills. Next up are ride-hailing and public car-sharing services by the German carmaker.
“Africa doesn’t need to be the dumping ground for second-hand cars or second-hand anything, because in the long run, you end up paying a higher price anyway. So if you can pay a high price for second-hand, why not pay a high price for something new?”
These powerful words were by Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame in a speech delivered at the launch of the Volkswagen (VW) assembly plant late June in the country.
The German carmaker, which now has a presence on the rolling hills of the Kigali Special Economic Zone, is the first international automobile giant to invest in Rwanda.
It will have a capacity to produce up to 5,000 cars with a starting price of $23,000.
President Kagame observed that Africans deserve better and this is one way of showing how they can afford it.
“In the medium-term, the only way for us in East Africa to move up the industrial value chain from assembly to manufacturing is to build an integrated regional manufacturing base.”
For this to be achieved, he underscored the need to shift from the logic of competition to one of cooperation but also fuse the two “because when they are put together, everyone gains”.
Thomas Schaefer, the Chairman of VW Group South Africa, revealed that opening an assembly plant in Rwanda aligns with the firm’s strategy to strengthen regions, focusing on new and upcoming markets.