Volkswagen Moves with Rwanda

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Volkswagen starts with local production and innovative mobility services in the Rwandan capital Kigali. The aim is to gain valuable experience for other opportunity markets in the region.

Today, to be mobile in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, people are looking for either a minibus taxi or a motorcycle taxi. An alternative would be the bus, if there is one coming, but there are usually long queues of people waiting. So far, only a small minority of people living in the metropolitan area own cars. Individual mobility in Rwanda is still at its beginning. And of course, this country of twelve million citizens so far also doesn’t have an established automotive industry.

The fact that Volkswagen has launched its integrated mobility concept in Kigali is a major step towards the future for the country and its people. The project is also an important step for Volkswagen – in testing new business models and opening up new markets in Africa.

The project got off the ground as early as 2016. That was when Hon. Francis Gatare, Director of the Rwanda Development Board, and Thomas Schaefer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa, in the presence of Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, and Volkswagen’s CEO, Herbert Diess, agreed on the initiative.

 “In Rwanda we are launching an idea, with which we want to support individual mobility in this aspiring country and make this market a further pillar of the Volkswagen brand’s commitment in Africa”, Thomas Schaefer said following the talks in Kigali.

The intention communicated then now becomes a reality. The brand starts new paths in Rwanda: It doesn’t just simply start by establishing a factory, but with a holistic package of local production, a distribution centre, staff training as well as modern and flexible mobility services like car sharing. Not without pride Rwandans hence speak of Africa’s first integrated mobility concept in their country. Within the past 18 months, Volkswagen basically built the Kigali business from scratch. The brand deliberately counts on the know-how of regional partners, because they know best what local people need and expect. From distribution to software development – in all these areas Volkswagen cooperates with African enterprises.

Rwanda is a young, modern and digital country – and because of that, it is perfectly suited for new, interconnected mobility services”, said Volkswagen Group South Africa CEO, Thomas Schaefer, who is responsible for the sub-Saharan region with its 49 countries. “I’m convinced, that our planned business ideas will be taken up well by our customers. The valuable experiences we are gaining from the mobility services here in Rwanda should in a future step also benefit the Volkswagen brand in other markets.”