Volkswagen Promises Going Green By 2030 in Africa

Volkswagen is exploring opportunities of manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs) in Africa by 2030 to assist combat the climate crisis. The manufacturing of EVs in Africa is dependent on factors such as the method of generating electricity, the stability of the power grid, availability of charging infrastructure and customer interest.

During the visit to Kenya this week, Martina Biene, Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA), as part of the business delegation which accompanied South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on his state visit to the country, she met with the representatives of Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), to discuss Volkswagen’s investment and challenges faced by the automotive industry in Kenya.

“We believe that Africa has the potential to leapfrog from internal combustion engines (ICEs) into EVs due to a growing young population who are embracing the need for carbon-neutral mobility. Africa is blessed with natural resources for renewable energy such as sun and wind. These could be used to power the EVs as well as provide energy at home. The potential for sustainable mobility on the African continent is immense,” said Martina Biene, Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA).

Kenya holds special significance for Volkswagen; not only is it the first country Biene has visited since she took up her position on 1 November. The Volkswagen brand currently has assembly facilities in Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana, but the facility in Thika, Kenya was the first of these investments in 2016.

The visit that was aimed at improving and advancing partnership between Kenya and South Africa has seen to it that business will be majorly boosted.

“We will continue working with key partners to develop the local automotive industry. With the right policies and partnerships, Kenya has the potential to be the major automotive market and a hub for other markets in the East Africa region,” she noted.

She emphasized that further enhancement of the growth of the new passenger car market and move into a higher degree of localization of parts, the demand for new cars needs to be increased. One such issue is the importation of used cars, which remains a dominant presence in the automotive industry in many African countries, but which is stagnating the sale of new vehicles.”  

Bien opined that automotive manufacturers may be reluctant to invest in a country where imported used cars are still the primary source of mobility. Volkswagen is satisfied with the progress Kenya has made to industrialize its automotive industry, but more should still be done to address this issue. She emphasized to KAM the importance of a speedy implementation of the automotive policy to attract other major automotive brands to invest in Kenya.

‘‘At a time when there is a growing global concern about climate change which is the greatest existential challenge of our times, Volkswagen’s plans to introduce EVs in Africa is a welcomed change. The local assembly of four Volkswagen models at KVM, in Thika makes Kenya the second country in Africa after South Africa where Volkswagen established operations,’’ said Chris Ndala, DT Dobie Managing Director.

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