After making waves last time out by unveiling the first made-in-Africa smartphones, Rwanda is in the news again with another first.
Electric cars will debut in Rwanda today through a partnership between Volkswagen and Siemens under a pilot project.
The vehicles have been christened e-Golf and they will be launched in the presence of Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, making Rwanda the first African country where electric cars are being tested by Volkswagen.
After today’s launch, four of the cars will be unveiled on the local market with one charging station at the Volkswagen facility at the Special Economic Zone.
City officials say that more electric cars will enter the market in the coming months. The short-term goal is to bring the number to about 20 cars and 15 charging stations across the city.
The electric cars will be of the Volkswagen Golf Model. While the Rwandan VW plant currently assembles three models in Kigali, the new electric model will be produced in Germany and imported. Siemens’s role in the partnership involves setting up charging stations.
Michaella Rugwizangoga, the Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen’s operations in Rwanda, said the cars are fully electric, not hybrid.
Leading up to today’s launch, Siemens, in collaboration with the City of Kigali and Rwanda Energy Group, conducted an assessment of the city’s grid to establish whether it can support innovation.
According to their findings, the city’s grid was adequate to support the charging stations at the launch and consequent phases of the pilot project.
Actually, earlier this year, Rwanda Energy Group said there was not adequate demand for energy in Rwanda compared to production capacity and urged companies to consume more energy.
The pilot project will involve data collection and analysis on aspects such as performance of the electric cars, reception by consumers, consumer trends and suitable conditions for the cars.
Head of Sales and Marketing, Nadege Gaju, said that it’s this data that will inform the consequent rollout of the project’s other phases.
The electric vehicles will be added to the firm’s fleet to operate under its Mobility Solutions initiative. This initiative includes ride-hailing, corporate car sharing, and rentals.
They will not be sold into the market for now and will be under the custody of Volkswagen Rwanda during the pilot project.
Rugwizangoga said that the pilot project is also part of the Volkwagen’s global ambitions of phasing out the combustion engines in the next decade as the firm seeks greener ambitions.
Featured Image Courtesy: exchange.co.tz