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Made in Rwanda: Volkswagen rolls first car off Kigali plant

Rwanda’s war against dumping by foreign countries has been emboldened with the launch of the first car built in Kigali on Wednesday.

German carmaker Volkswagen rolled off a Polo from its new assembly plant at Kigali’s Special Economic Zone.

“Africa does not need to be a dumping ground for secondhand cars or secondhand anything,” President Paul Kagame said at the unveiling ceremony.

“Some found it hard to believe that German cars could really be built in Rwanda. Yet today, the first vehicles are rolling off the assembly line. This facility undoubtedly represents a new chapter, in Rwanda’s journey of economic transformation,” he added.

Analysts predict that the new vehicles market in Africa could increase rapidly with President Kagame, who is also the chairman of the African Union, having joined the campaign to reduce importation of used cars in the continent.

Mr Kagame said that used vehicles are a leading cause of pollution and are also expensive to maintain.

“In the long run you end up paying a higher price anyway. When you can pay a high price for a secondhand, why can’t you pay higher price for something new?” He posed.

The Volkswagen plant in Rwanda is the German carmaker’s fourth operation in Africa after South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Algeria.

The Kigali factory will build Polo, Passat, Teramont, Tiguan and Amarok pickup models.

The firm will import knocked-down vehicle parts for assembly.

With an initial investment of $20 million, the plant is expected to roll off 1,000 to 5,000 units annually to serve both the region and global markets.

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