Sounds of traditional drums went silent as Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr Edouard Ngirente, made his way inside a conference hall at Kigali Convention Center on Tuesday morning, October 29.
Inside the hall, a glittering white-colored car, branded : “e-Golf” , unusually parked next to the podium in front of hundreds of delegates.
A car parked inside a conference hall at Kigali Convention Center? It was strangely there for a purpose.
The Prime Minister was in the room to witness Volkswagen and Siemens’ launch of the first electric car in Rwanda and Africa, under the electric mobility feasibility project.
The Pilot Project is part of the “Moving Rwanda Initiative”
At the launch, Four e-Golfs and one charging station for the initial phase of the pilot project were unveiled.
This marked the addition of the e-Golfs into the Volkswagen Mobility Solutions fleet in Rwanda – more than a year after Volkswagen launched its assembly plant in Rwanda.
The pilot project, which will form part of Volkswagen’s operations in Rwanda, was officially launched by the Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente and Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa and responsible for the Sub-Sahara Africa Region.
During the launch, Prime Minister Ngirente rode Thomas Schäfer as they enjoyed the feeling of riding an electric car – before crossing around the Kigali Convention Center compound.
In his remarks, Thomas Schäfer said: “The success of our innovative and pioneering mobility solutions business has shown us that Rwanda has the potential to leapfrog the internal combustion engines into electric cars. In Rwanda and progressive population that appreciates individual and modern mobility,” he said.
Schäfer added that by launching electric cars in Rwanda, it signals the company’s commitment towards its mission in the country.
“Today we are fulfilling our promise and reaffirming our commitment to work with the government of Rwanda. Rwanda success is our success,” he said.
Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO for Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa said that the company’s partnership with Volkswagen on this project solidifies its commitment not only to Rwanda but to the East Africa region.
“By contributing towards shaping the African market for intelligent, adaptive infrastructure, while addressing skills challenges in this sector, Siemens is helping to build a more sustainable future for the people of Rwanda,” she said.
Creating jobs for Rwandans
With the investment of Volkswagen into the Rwandan market, Prime Minister Ngirente said that this is another opportunity of creating jobs.
“Volkswagen’s investment is contributing to the creation of jobs especially among youth since operations started in June 2018. This complements Rwanda’s target to create 1.5 million decent and productive jobs by 2024. The private sector is central,” he said.
“We commend Volkswagen Business model in Rwanda that promotes services through VW Move and the plan to roll out in other countries on the continent.”
The Prime Minister added that Volkswagen’s ambition to expand its operations in Rwanda and Africa is a welcome move even in other policy fields.
“Your ambition to expand invites us to collaborate across policy fields, sectors and industries in order to make a holistic transition to the environment friendly transport on the continent.”
The Prime Minister, who was in company of Trade Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye and Solange Kayisire – Minister in charge of Cabinet Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister, said that the introduction of electric cars in Rwanda adds more energy to the country’s efforts to conserve the environment.
“In our National Strategy for Transformation, Rwanda prioritises development of a climate resilient low carbon economy. This includes building smart green cities, smart transport facilities and services as well as use of ICT and digital solutions for improved service delivery,”
“E-mobility presents great opportunities to substitute expensive fuel imports with electricity generated in the country,” said the Prime Minister adding that in 2018, fuel products were the largest single import product category into Rwanda, accounting for 12% of all imported goods.
“Rwandans are becoming increasingly aware that protecting the environment is a top priority. We are confident that the introduction of environmentally friendly transport services will accelerate the reduction of air pollution levels,” he said.
The pilot e-Golfs will be added into the Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda fleet to provide customized mobility service.
The plan is to increase the number of the electric cars to 50 units and 15 charging stations, depending on the outcomes of the pilot project. Later after today’s launch, only 20 cars will be added.
The drivers and technicians who will be working with the electric cars have received specialized training in preparation for launch of the pilot project.
“Africa’s youth need sustainable jobs and better prospects for a future in their home countries. Therefore, German development cooperation supports innovative ideas for vocational education and environmentally friendly mobility concepts for African cities,”
“In this respect, initiatives such as Moving Rwanda are yet another step towards implementing the Marshall Plan with Africa,” said Dr Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The electric mobility project was developed within the Moving Rwanda initiative, a cooperation between Volkswagen, Siemens, SAP and Inros Lackner and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Germany Cooperation Agency (GIZ) supported the e-mobility project by bringing together relevant partners from the private and public sector and by advising on the development benefits of the project.
The Moving Rwanda Initiative was established as the result of Volkswagen’s initial investment in Rwanda, which saw the launch of
Africa’s first Integrated Mobility Solutions business in June 2018.
Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda offers mobility solutions offered on the Move App, an innovative IT mobility solution which was developed by a local IT start-up company, Awesomity Lab.
A ride-hailing and corporate car sharing is also part of the services offered.
The services are offered using a fleet of vehicles assembled at Volkswagen Rwanda’s assembly facility in Kigali.
By the end of 2019, Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda will have a fleet of more than 200 vehicles consisting of Polo, Amarok, Teramont and Passat, according to Michaella Rugwizangoga – CEO of Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda.
Currently, its Move App has about 27 000 registered users while over 59,500 rides have been completed in the ride-hailing service since the beginning of 2019.
Thomas Schäfer said that: “The integrated mobility solutions business in Rwanda is our lighthouse project. In the past year, our operations in Kigali have provided us with valuable lessons and business intelligence which we plan to utilise in our growth strategy into other African markets like Ghana and Ethiopia.”
Sub-Sahara Africa expansion strategy gaining momentum
Africa is the last frontier for the automotive industry. Volkswagen’s long term goal is to play a leading and pioneering role in the development of the automotive industry in the continent.
As such, Volkswagen has significantly expanded its engagement in Africa with the establishment of assembly facilities and marketing activities in Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria. Ghana and Ethiopia are planned as the next locations.
Key features in the new e-Golf car
No sound. Obviously, you will never hear any sound while driving the new e-Golf car.
It’s electric – unlike the fuel-consuming cars. Welcome to a hi-tech environment. The motor is electric. The inside is electronic. You can check out fully digital displays, access your favorite apps, and get connected with your compatible device. All from the comfort of your own hi-tech cockpit.
The e-Mobility features in the app can monitor miles traveled, estimated power consumption of the motor, and location of the nearest charging station.
It takes 230kms before recharging the new e-Gold car at a nearest charging station.
Sunroof rain notification: If you leave the sunroof open and there is rain in the near forecast, the VW Car-Net mobile app14 can help. It can send you a notification so you can return to the car and close it.
The e-Golf is propelled solely by an electric motor sending 114bhp (Brake horse power) to the front wheels, fed by a 24.2kW lithium ion battery tucked down between the axles.