Open Letter To President Paul Kagame, Republic of Rwanda
Dear Mr. President, I have been asking my Christian friends to pray for you. This is because you appear to have lost a sense of reality. Yesterday, we learned that you want to build a nuclear power plant — which costs US$9 Billion. Today, you claim that you persuaded Volkswagen to build an assembly plant in Rwanda for a mere US$20 Million. The last time I checked, it cost Volkswagen US$360 Million to build a real assembly plant in Uitenhage, South Africa. I put it to you, Sir, that what Volkswagen built in Rwanda is no assembly plant. Mr President, I also put it to you that you urgently need to rest.
Mr President look at what you said today:
”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.”
Mr Kagame, you were not done. You added the following:
”Africa does not need to be a dumping ground for second-hand cars, or second-hand anything.
From the above statements, Mr President, you would have us believe that Volkswagen just built an assembly plant in Rwanda.
Not only that — you would have us believe that Volkswagen assembly line in Kigali can assemble three models at the same facility, namely, Polo, Passat, and Polo. And all of that done in a US$20 Million facility.
Dear Kagame, let me first remind you that even your own Inyange assembly line that produces juice cost you no less than US$28 Million.
Mr. President, what Volkswagen has given you is not an automobile assembly plant.
Excellence, what you have there in Rwanda is not an assembly line. You have is what is known as a semi-knocked-down (SKD) kit facility. The Kigali SKD facility will put finishing touches to vehicle kits imported from South Africa. This has already been reported in South Africa:
”VW operations in Rwanda follow on the start of SKD assembly in Kenya, which kicked off in December 2016. Both the Rwanda and Kenya plants are supplied with vehicle kits from the VWSA plant in Uitenhage, in the Eastern Cape.”
Mr. Kagame, also stop deceiving the world the VW vehicles will be purchased by Rwandans. A Polo costs over US$15,000.00. A Passat costs more that US$30,000.00. A Teramont costs over US$50,000.00. Per capita income in Rwanda is US$702 — in case you forgot. Even your ministers cannot afford a Passat, let alone a Teramont.
President Sir, Volkswagen is not seeking to sell its cars to Rwandans. Volkswagen is not that stupid. It knows that most Rwandans are too poor to afford its products. Volkswagen is using Rwanda as an experiment to test Uber-style of mobility services. This has already been reported:
”The mobility solutions, to be launched in a staggered fashion, including corporate car-sharing, a solution in which approved company employees can book a vehicle for use on a per-hour basis; e-hailing (similar to Uber); car sharing, and shuttles, which operate on fixed routes and timetables.”
Mr. Kagame, we also know the conditions you gave to Volkswagen. You offered a seven-year tax holiday, starting in 2018. You also as gave them duty-free parts imports ”for as long as the assembly plant is operational.” We wait to see how this company will benefit Rwandans — with such generosity you showered on Volkswagen.
Lastly, your excellence, we need to ask this question — who are the local investors in this project? Apparently, there is something called CFAO Motors Rwanda that owns the dealership and the premises. Is CFAO Motors Rwanda wholly owned by Volkswagen or local investors have shares? We will keep an eye on this.