By David Himbara
There is never a dull moment in General Paul Kagame’s Rwanda. Today, the big news was four Volkswagen electric cars imported from Germany. Kagame’s New Times announced what it called the launch of VW electric cars in Africa as follows:
“Four cars were unveiled as well as a charging station that will be located at Volkswagen facility at the Special Economic Zone. There is a plan to add more cars in the coming months to bring the number to about 50 cars and 15 charging stations across the city. The pilot project will involve data collection and analysis on aspects such as performance of the electric cars, reception by consumers, consumer trends and suitable conditions for the cars. The electronic is the Volkswagen Golf Model produced in Germany and imported.”
How embarrassing – the cars are not even for sale but for analysis.
Kagame’s Rwanda is in Stone Age. Electric vehicles first appeared in the mid-19th century, but were commercially unviable. They were too costly, low speed, and short range in terms of battery life. The 1960s-1990s saw a strong revival of interest in electric cars due to environmental concerns.
By the 2010s, electric cars had taken off. In 2018, the global electric car fleet “exceeded 5.1 million, up 2 million from the previous year and almost doubling the number of new electric car sales.” China is the world’s largest electric car market, followed by Europe and the US.
Meanwhile, the city of London, UK, launched the first electric taxi in 2019. In South Africa, it is estimated that electric cars on the road number just over 1,000.
Dear New Times, where have you been hiding all these years?