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Mobility Hub – Building Up Business Models for Africa

Business Models in Africa: Volkswagen
A woman charging an electric volkswagen, smiling, holidng a plug in her hand.
© Volkswagen

The Moving Rwanda Initiative is working with Volkswagen and Siemens to launch an African E-Mobility car project. Volkswagen has committed to providing four e-Golfs and a charging station as the first phase of the project. On the other hand, Siemens committed to provide the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

This partnership made Rwanda the first African country to introduce a Volkswagen electric car. The company plans to increase the number of electric vehicles to about 50 units and 15 charging stations. However, this will depend on the results of the pilot project. Rwanda has the potential to scale up the internal combustion engine in electric cars due Volkswagen’s innovative and pioneering business success in mobility solutions.

“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 E-Mobility in Africa,” said Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Group South Africa and responsible for the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

The plan is to increase the number of electric cars to 50 units and 15 charging stations, depending on the results of the pilot project. Drivers and technicians working with the EVs have received specialized training in preparation for the launch of the pilot project.

An image of the first volkswagen vehicle assembled in Rwanda. First e-Golf assembled in Rwanda. Irma Venter (2018)

EV batteries are mostly made of lithium-ion and consist of rare elements such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt. Recycling reduces negative environmental impacts and has the potential to reduce the overall cost of a battery. It can be used in applications such as energy storage or behind-the-meter use, or it can extract the raw materials from the batteries to make new ones.

The project was developed by the Moving Rwanda initiative, Volkswagen, Siemens, SAP and Inros Lackner, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. GIZ supported the project by bringing together partners from private and public sectors and advising on the development benefits of the project.

An overview of the building where the e-Gold is being assembled in Rwanda. Volkswagen Rwanda building. Irma Venter (2018)

The Moving Rwanda Initiative was established following Volkswagen’s initial investment in Rwanda, which saw the launch of Africa’s first integrated mobility solutions business launch. (Volkswagen Newsroom, 2019)

Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda provides mobility solutions services, such as ride-hailing and corporate car-sharing. The services are offered through the Move app, an innovative IT mobility solution developed by IT start-up company Awesomity Lab. “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 use in our growth strategy in other African markets like Ghana and Ethiopia,” said Thomas Schäfer.

Overview of the quality inspections of the finished vehicles in the assembly section of Volkswagen Rwanda. Quality inspections. Irma Venter (2018)


Public and private sector institutions are considering new regions, such as Rwanda in Africa, to implement new business models for E-Mobility, in this case, with a manufacturing center. This type of project is much more vital as it attracts the economy to the region and even more importantly new areas of employment opportunities for the inhabitants.


Volkswagen Newsroom (2019) First for Africa: Volkswagen and Siemens launch joint electric mobility pilot project in Rwanda. Retrieved from: Link

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