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Volkswagen Eyes Scaling Up e-Tractor Project In Rwanda

by Edmund Kagire
7:03 pm

President Kagame received VW Group Executives on Friday. Photos/Urugwiro Village.

Volkswagen Group Executives are in Rwanda to set in motion large scale production of the e-Tractor, in line with Rwanda’s agriculture mechanisation initiatives, in a move that is expected to revolutionise the agricultural sector.

VW senior officials on Friday met and held talks with President Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village to discuss the scaling up of the production of the energy efficient tractor which is expected to boost large scale farming following the success of the pilot phase.

“This afternoon at Urugwiro Village, President Kagame received a delegation of Volkswagen Group Executives who are in Rwanda for the 5th anniversary of VW partnership with Rwanda. The meeting discussed ongoing projects as well as the recently signed MoU to establish the Gen-Farm project in Bugesera,”

President Kagame discussed with VW executives on the prospective of scaling up e-Tractor production.

“The project will provide farmers with access to VW electric tractors as part of an effort to establish a holistic ecosystem of e-powered mechanized farming services,” the Office of the President said.

VW rolled out the prototype in November 2021 stating that the e-Tractor will among other things help farms cultivate larger areas of land much more effectively, meaning less work, higher yields and increased incomes for farmers.

VW started the project to develop the first electric tractor for Africa early in 2021, in partnership with the University of Rwanda and Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The tractor, which is fitted with an electric motor and backup battery was first floated at Volkswagen’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany and tested in Rwanda.

It is designed to meet local requirements and to cultivate larger areas more effectively. At the same time, it is hoped that the modern machine will encourage in particular more young people to work in the agricultural sector, leading to higher employment in rural areas.

According to VW, it is not only the drive system of the e-tractor that is innovative, but also the way it will be distributed. The plan is for it to benefit entire village communities rather than just individual farms.

President Ruto test drives the e-Tractor at RICA on April 5 during his state visit to Rwanda.

Earlier this year in April, President Paul Kagame and his guest President William Samoei Ruto checked out the prototype of an e-tractor at Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA), with the Kenyan leader test-driving it.

According to the plan, the e-Tractor will be purchased by farmer communities and managed cooperatively – farmers will be able to book it via an app to use in their fields.

The tractor-sharing scheme will allow far more people to benefit from the new technology as it will be a community investment, according to VW and partners.

The first phase of the pilot project came to an end in September 2022, confirming the feasibility of the production of the equipment, ahead of large-scale production, primarily in Africa, scheduled to start from from 2024 onwards. The long-term goal is for electric tractors to replace conventional diesel models on the continent.

The e-tractor has swappable batteries that allow it to operate around the clock.


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