By Dias Nyesiga
Rwanda has introduced the first ever electric car in Africa with the testing of the feasibility of these cars kicked off, another milestone for the country that is leaping to a knowledge based economy.
The feasibility will be conducted by Volkswagen brand and Siemens through a joint development agreement. The Pilot Project, part of Moving Rwanda Initiative consists of four electric cars under the brand name e-Golfs and one charging station for the initial phase of the pilot project.
Under the agreement, Siemens will provide the charging infrastructure for the electric cars. During the pilot phase, four e-Golfs and one charging station will be introduced in Kigali.
“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,” said Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa and responsible for the Sub-Sahara Africa Region.
The e-Golfs will be added into the Volkswagen Mobility Solutions fleet to provide customized mobility service.
“Together with our development partner Siemens and with the
support from the Government of Rwanda, Volkswagen wants to make the e-Golf
pilot project in Rwanda a blueprint for electric mobility in Africa,” he said.
Accordingly, 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.
Rwanda has a young and progressive population that appreciates individual and modern mobility.
“Our partnership with Volkswagen on this project solidifies our commitment not only to Rwanda but to the East Africa region,” Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO for Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa
Sabine says that through 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.
With their uniqueness, the drivers as well as technicians who will be working with the electric cars have received specialized training in preparation for launch of the pilot project.
Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development says that 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,” he said.
He adds, “In this respect, initiatives such as Moving Rwanda are yet another step towards implementing the Marshall Plan with Africa.”
The electric mobility project was developed within the Moving Rwanda initiative, cooperation between Volkswagen, Siemens, SAP and Inros Lackner and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
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 services such as ride-hailing and corporate car sharing. The services are offered on the Move App, an innovative IT mobility solution which was developed by a local IT start-up company, Awesomity Lab.
Further, 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.
Move App has about 27 000 registered users. Over 59 500 rides have been completed in the ride-hailing service since the beginning of 2019.
Experts say that Africa is the last frontier for the automotive industry and Volkswagen’s long term goal is to play a leading and pioneering role in the development of the automotive industry in the continent.
As a result, 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.