In 2016, Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) opened a new assembly plant in Kenya and launched plans for a ride-sharing service in Rwanda as it seeks to take advantage of surging car demand in Africa.
This was part of a strategy to play a role in the emerging automotive industry in Africa and comprised semi-knocked down local assembly, a new vehicle business and innovative mobility services in Rwanda.
Two years later, VWSA is considering introducing electric vehicles into the Rwanda market.
Thomas Schaefer, the chairperson and managing director of VWSA, confirmed this last week, adding that Rwanda had the right mindset as to why they would want to move to electric vehicles.
“We did a grid check-in Rwanda together with GRZ (Technologies) and Siemens last year and they are ready. They already get their electricity from 70percent renewable energy and that will change to 100percent in the next 10 years.
“They are trucking their fuel from the Middle East to Dar es Salaam, then 3000km by road into Kigali. What for? They could immediately go electric.”
Schaefer said fuel was “super expensive” in Rwanda and it destroyed their foreign exchange reserves, because they had to import it and pay for it in dollars. “Now they can create their own electricity and go a different route. We will see,” he said.
According to reports, Schaefer did not believe Africa was likely to adopt new technologies at a slower rate than the developed world and, as had happened in the telecommunications industry with the growth of mobile phones, believed countries would leapfrog to new technologies.
“When we had discussions with Rwanda in the last year, they said their drive is on green and sustainability and environmental protection and to bring electric cars,” he added.