Volkswagen says it is taking a further step to develop market potential in Africa and has signed an MoU for an app-based ‘integrated mobility concept’ in Rwanda.
The move is significant in two respects – the company’s stated aim of developing new business models for future urban mobility and also the fact that it is happening in a city in Africa, a part of the world attracting more attention as a ‘next wave’ emerging markets region. The company has also just started assembling vehicles in Kenya.
This week, Hon. Francis Gatare, Director of the Rwanda Development Board, and Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa, 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.
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. 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,” said Thomas Schäfer in Kigali.
On the occasion of the signature, Hon. Francis Gatare said: “We welcome Volkswagen and its innovative approach to mobility concepts in Rwanda. We may be a small country but we believe that we are a pioneer. Our country is determined to become the leading innovator in Africa. The signature of this memorandum of understanding today is a further step on our path to digitisation and modernisation.”
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! or the e-Golf.