In a first for the African continent, the Volkswagen Brand has launched a pilot project in partnership with Siemens to test the feasibility of electric mobility in an African country.
The pilot project, which will form part of Volkswagen’s operations in Rwanda, was officially announced on Tuesday by Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa and responsible for the Sub-Sahara Africa Region, in the presence of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, Right Honourable Dr. Edouard Ngirente.
During the pilot phase, four e-Golfs and one charging station will be introduced in the capital of Rwanda, Kigali. Volkswagen has signed a joint development agreement with Siemens to provide the charging infrastructure for the electric cars.
With the launch of the pilot project, Rwanda becomes the first African country to introduce a Volkswagen electric car.
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. Rwanda has a young and progressive population that appreciates individual and modern mobility. 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.”
Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO for Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa said: “Our partnership with Volkswagen on this project solidifies our 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.”
The pilot e-Golfs will be added into the Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda fleet to provide customised 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.
The drivers and technicians who will be working with the electric cars have received specialised 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. 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.
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.
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.
Thomas Schäfer commented: “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.