By David Himbara
General Paul Kagame represses the people of Rwanda in the name of ”economic development.” But he delivers neither basic rights nor improved lives — he cooks statistics to deceive the world that he has turned Rwanda into an African economic lion. The naive investors discover the reality too late. They get busted by Rwandan economics. That is exactly what happened to Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and CEO of Volkswagen South Africa who fell for Kagame’s fantasy.
Back in June 2018, Volkswagen bombastically announced the start of the ”local production and innovative mobility services in the Rwandan capital Kigali” and described Rwanda as a perfect market:
”The political environment is promisingly stable, the government under president Paul Kagame acts decisively against corruption and it worked out an ambitious innovation roadmap for the coming decades. There is a well-developed road network which is continously upgraded. Statistics show that three quarters of the population have a mobile phone, internet usage is mainly mobile. Especially the capital, Kigali, is inhabited by young and well-trained people, who helped develop the metropolis into a regional start-up centre. Rwanda is strongly committed to become a leader in innovation in Africa.”
Thomas Schaefer, the proponent of VW venture into Rwanda proclaimed:
”Rwanda is a young, modern and digital country — and because of that, it is perfectly suited for new, interconnected mobility services.”
At the formal launch of Volkswagen knock-down assembly plant on June 27, 2019, General Paul Kagame famously boasted:
”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.”
General Paul Kagame And Volkswagen’s Thomas Schaefer Got Busted By Rwandan Economics
The German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) examined Volkswagen’s progress in Rwanda nearly a year since entering the market. The most shocking finding is the number of Volkswagen Polo sold on the Rwanda market to private customers. The Polo is the smallest and cheapest, priced at US$20,000. Volkswagen Rwanda has sold only 1 VW Polo to a private customer in nearly one year. Volkswagen has done slightly better with the Teramont, the much larger utility vehicle priced at US$45,000. Volkswagen has sold 22 Teramont vehicles. Thilo Thielke’s report appeared in FAZ of April 20, 2019.
Volkswagen’s Thomas Schaefer must have an egg on his face.
He swallowed Kagame’s propaganda that Rwanda ”is a young, modern and digital country perfectly suited for new, interconnected mobility services.” The real Rwanda is a repressed poverty-stricken population in which 55.5% live on less than US$1.90 a day. Rwanda Per capita income is US$748. These are the realities that explain why VW sold 1 VW Polo in nearly one year. Rwandan economics have busted Kagame and Schaefer.