By David Himbara
On June 27, 2017, Rwanda President Paul Kagame was determined to shine on the global stage. This was the day that he would proclaim that a German carmaker, Volkswagen, would launch a factory that would put Rwanda on a new level of development. In his own words, Volkswagen assembly facility in Rwanda “undoubtedly represented a new chapter in Rwanda’s journey of economic transformation.”
True to form, Kagame attacked doubters of what Volkswagen investments had already achieved in Rwanda. This is Kagame’s own words again:
”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.
Each of these Kagame’s statements is, of course, a big lie. German cars are not built in Rwanda. And there is no assembly line in Rwanda for cars to roll off.
Interestingly, evidence for proving Kagame’s big lies came from his own PR machine.
Take a closer look at these photographs of Volkswagen cars in Rwanda and the launch of its facility’s launch on June 27, 2018.
- Photograph No 1 shows Passat cars from an earlier event. These cars were evidently shipped from South Africa for transporting delegates for Transform Africa.
- Photograph No 2 shows four workers installing an exhaust pipe in the Kigali Volkswagen workshop. Clearly, what we see here is most certainly not an assembly line. In an automobile assembly line, a conveyor moves cars from an assembly worker to the next assembler.
- Photograph 3 shows three Passat car kits without bumpers and tires. This is a confirmation that Volkswagen is importing from South Africa already assembled cars. The workshop is devoid of any sophisticated equipment that would assemble a complex car such as Passat. Once in Rwanda, bumpers, tires and exhaust pipes are re-attached to complete the vehicle. This is characteristic of Semi Knocked Down method.
- Photograph 4 shows the same four workers that appear in Photograph 1 posing for the Kagame PR Machine. This suggests that VW workshop in Kigali currently has only four workers.
Dear President Kagame, the pictures from your own PR Machine disapprove your big lie that German cars are “really be built in Rwanda.” Further, your own pictures show that the VW facility in Kigali does not have an assembly line. So, your statement that the first vehicles were “rolling off the assembly line” in Kigali on June 27, 2018 was a big lie. Mr. President, there is no need to lie. Volkswagen’s investment in Rwanda, however modest, is already an achievement. You should celebrate that investment instead of making delusional statements that VW is making cars in Rwanda. In any event, Mr. President, with only 216 Megawatts of electricity in Rwanda, an automobile assembly line is not possible at present. An assembly line requires at least 1,000 Megawatts to operate. So, first invest in power. Then, perhaps, VW might install an assembly line in Rwanda.