Volkswagen Mobility Solutions launched in Rwanda

Volkswagen was one of the first car brands to ever be used in Rwanda, and President Paul Kagame launched a new Volkswagen assembly plant in Rwanda. The plant is the first Integrated Mobility Solution in Africa, situated in the Special Economic Zone.

It is an integral move towards Rwanda’s economic transformation and financial autonomy for Volkswagen to start assembling cars in the east African country. The facility is reported to incorporate a sales and service retail outlet, vehicle assembly, training center, and a mobility company that will undertake the first ever car sharing service in Rwanda. Additionally, Volkswagen says 500-1,000 jobs would be created in its first phase of investment, including the drivers of the first batch of cars for the ride-hailing service.

On the launch of the facility President Kagame stated, “Some found it hard to believe that German cars could really be built in Rwanda. Yet today, the first vehicles are rolling off the assembly line. This facility undoubtedly represents a new chapter, in Rwanda’s journey of economic transformation”.

“There are also positive implications for Africa more generally. Not only can global brands assemble high-quality products in Africa, they can also find customers here. Africa is not merely positioning itself as a new low-cost hub to manufacture goods for export. African consumers will also be among the biggest contributors to growth in global demand in the years ahead,” President Kagame added.

This move is part of Volkswagen strategy towards developing new up-and-coming markets. In a long-term perspective, the brand intends to play a leading role in the emerging automotive industry in Africa.

Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa, and responsible for the Sub-Sahara region said, “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.”

Dr. Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, said, “Volkswagen’s new project in Rwanda is the kind of activity we would like to see copied by other German companies. We want many more of them to launch new business ventures in Africa. Volkswagen has brought good ideas and a generous dose of pioneering spirit to this project and together with its German and Rwandan partners is developing a viable mobility concept for the future for Rwanda”.

“We are pleased to support this project through Germany’s development cooperation. These companies are making a direct contribution towards sustainable economic development – and that is totally in keeping with the idea of our Marshall Plan with Africa. The only way for people in Rwanda and in other places to have an attractive future in their own countries is if they can be offered high-quality training and good jobs where they are,” Dr. Müller added.

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President Kagame who has taken a hard stance on second hand items to the chagrin of the West that has enjoyed the privilege of disposing its second hand goods on the continent at a profit reiterated the detriment it has on African consumers.

“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. ”

Rwanda Revenue Authority 2017 statistics indicate that between 7000 and 9000 cars are imported annually, of these most are used cars and therefore lack provisions, such as genuine part replacement, dealership servicing and guarantee. These are some of the gaps Volkswagen will fill with this Integrated Mobility Solution.

Mercedes Benz Invests R10 Billion in South Africa Plant expansion

Mercedes Benz announced that it will invest €600 million, or R10 billion, into the expansion of the East London plant in South Africa. The upgrade will extend the production space of the existing plant by up to two-thirds for the production of the next generation of the C-Class as well as production of the GLC SUVs.

Member of Mercedes-Benz’s divisional board, Markus Schafer said that the investment is, “an important milestone for Mercedes-Benz, especially for Mercedes-Benz South Africa and I think a very important milestone for the community, expanding the plant and making the plant ready for the future. This is a sign of trust in the fantastic work force.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa another leader who has emphasised his government’s commitment to stimulate significant new investment in the country’s economy said the continued interest in South Africa, “is a statement of trust, a statement of confidence that South Africa is indeed a good investment destination and we welcome you for having brought this investment here.”