Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Wednesday, said that Africa should not be a dumping ground used for products from developed markets.
President Kagame spoke at the launch of Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda located in the Special Economic Zone.
The German carmaker was launching a plant to assemble, service and retail cars, as well as their first integrated mobility solution, reports Rwandan The New Times.
Kagame said that the assembly plant in Rwanda is proof that global brands that assemble high-quality products in Africa have customers on the continent.
“Not only can global brands assemble high-quality products in Africa, they can also find customers here. Africa is not merely positioning itself as a new low-cost hub to manufacture goods for export. African consumers will also be among the biggest contributors to growth in global demand in the years ahead,” the President said.
Kagame said that settling for second hand products often leads to higher costs in the long run.
“Africa does not need to be a dumping ground for second-hand cars, or second-hand anything. In the long run, you end up paying a higher price anyway. If you pay a high price for second hand, why not pay for something new. Africa and Rwanda deserve better and this is one way of showing we can afford it,” he noted.
With VW having similar operations in various African countries including Kenya, Kagame said that it’s important for regional countries to work together to attract and retain investments as well as create value.
The Head of State said that the investment by the firm in the region further pointed to the need to build an integrated regional manufacturing base.
“This operation reminds us of the importance of working regionally. Our Kenyan brothers and sisters are a key part of this international team. Rwanda and Kenya will be benefitting each other directly with Volkswagen right in the middle of it” Kagame said.
Part of the staff in the assembly plant and service station are Kenyan while a section of Rwandan staff were trained in Kenya.
The President noted that Africa’s best chances of moving up the industrial value chain from assembly to manufacturing was by building integrated regional manufacturing bases.
This would see various parts produced from different countries in the region as opposed to being flown from overseas.
“In the medium-term, the only way for us in East Africa to move up the industrial value chain from assembly to manufacturing is to build an integrated regional manufacturing base. When we shift from a logic of competition to one of cooperation, we all gain. Success is about partnership and leveraging our strengths,” he said.
The President also hailed local tech startup, Awesomity, chosen by Volkswagen to develop a mobility solution which is likely to be adopted across the continent and beyond.
“We want to encourage our young people and many more to be behind the kinds of innovations that will work for the many industries that will be developed here,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Thomas Schäfer, chief executive of Volkswagen Group South Africa said that Rwanda was an ideal market for new mobility solutions because the citizens are digitally-minded and tech-savvy.
With an annual production capacity of up to 5,000 units, the firm plans to build up to 1,000 vehicles per year depending on demand and the success of the mobility fleet. Volkswagen will spend US $20 million in Rwanda for phase one.
The sales and service retail outlet, CFAO Volkswagen Rwanda is also part of the investment.