Volkswagen Assembly Plant in Rwanda: A Stumbling Block on the Road to High-Tech ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ Industry

Urugwiro Village, June 9, 2023 – President Kagame of Rwanda welcomed a delegation of Volkswagen Group Executives today at Urugwiro Village. The meeting, held on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Volkswagen partnership with Rwanda, focused on various ongoing projects and the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Gen-Farm project in Bugesera.

The Gen-Farm project aims to revolutionize farming practices by providing farmers with access to VW electric tractors. This initiative is part of the broader efforts to establish a holistic ecosystem of e-powered mechanized farming services. The project is expected to enhance agricultural productivity, improve efficiency, and contribute to the sustainable development of Rwanda’s agricultural sector.

During the meeting, President Kagame emphasized the importance of leveraging technology to drive economic growth and transform the agricultural landscape. He highlighted the significance of the Gen-Farm project in supporting the country’s aspirations for a high-tech “Made-in-Rwanda” industry. This project aligns with President Kagame’s vision of creating a self-sufficient nation that doesn’t rely on second-hand imports.

David Himbara, former senior advisor to President Kagame, raised questions about the current status of the Volkswagen assembly plant in Rwanda. Himbara referred to an interview with Serge Kamuhinda, the CEO of VW Rwanda, published in The New Times, where Kamuhinda explained that assembling vehicles was temporarily suspended due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Kamuhinda, the scarcity of materials, especially semiconductors, significantly affected the assembly of electric vehicles. However, VW Rwanda is actively working towards reactivating the electric vehicle assembly line by the end of this year, once the supply chain challenges are addressed.

Himbara expressed his disappointment with the situation, calling it a “big lie” in President Kagame’s journey towards a high-tech “Made-in-Rwanda” industry. He alluded to Machiavelli’s advice that politics often diverges from moral considerations, emphasizing the consolidation of power as the ultimate objective.