Germany’s Volkswagen will be helping Rwandans access and afford new cars by building an assembly plant in Rwanda and going extra mile to create a cab sharing service to empower Rwandans and help sustain the demand for the assembly plant.
Thomas Schaefer, chief executive of Volkswagen Group South Africa, said they were trying to wean East African drivers off second-hand imports.
“We are trying to break this thought-pattern that Africa is poor; they can’t afford (new) cars,” he told a news conference.
There were 300,000 cars in Rwanda last year, in a country of 12 million people. Most of the cars on the roads are second-hand imports from countries such as Japan.
The company said it planned to spend $20 million to start developing the assembly plant and ride-hailing service – part of a push into sub-Saharan Africa, and will produce three models; the Hatchback Polo, the Passat and possibly the Teramont, a large sports utility vehicle.
The carmaker said it had registered a local company to run its ride-sharing service and signed up a local software firm to develop a smartphone application to hail rides.
They added that 500-1,000 jobs would be created in the first phase of the investment, including the drivers of the first batch of cars for the ride-hailing service.
According to Schaefer, the service will feed demand for the assembly plant, since vehicles in the scheme will be driven all the time, forcing the need for constant replacement.
Global ride-sharing companies such as Uber have not yet moved into Rwanda.