Is Volkswagen working to replace Toyota in East Africa?

Volkswagen is making a return to East Africa, where it once ruled the local tourism industries in Kenya and Tanzania through their popular Combi and Syncros buses.

The Germany automotive giant this time wants to build vehicles right here in East Africa and elsewhere around the continent.

Volkswagen says will stick to Kenya and Rwanda for its East African factories as it spreads tentacles all over Africa.

But is Volkswagen out to dethrone the Japanese giant, Toyota from ruling East African roads?

With the African Union marking six decades since its establishment back in the days of OAU, Volkswagen says it will synchronize the AU slogan ‘Our Africa, Our Future,’ with the company’s planned expansion on the continent.

A statement from VW quotes the African Development Bank’s report on world’s ten fastest growing economies, with five of them being in Africa, where the Germany vehicle giant plans serious investments.

Two of the fastest growing economies happen to be in East Africa, and these are Rwanda and Tanzania.

Others on the continent include Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Ethiopia.

Rwanda on the other hand, becomes the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to launch a Volkswagen electric vehicle with the recently launched e-Golfs, says the Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa, Martina Biene.

Biene affirmed that Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire are also two of Volkswagen’s fastest growing markets.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen took over the responsibilities of the assembly facility in Ghana from its licensed importer, Universal Motors Limited.

Ghana is the fourth Volkswagen assembly location in Sub-Saharan Africa after Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, where Volkswagen has been manufacturing vehicles for over 72 years.

Volkswagen says a number of African countries are now introducing compelling incentive plans for locally assembled vehicles.

Africa seems to be rapidly attracting original equipment manufacturers like Volkswagen to invest in the development of the automotive industry on the continent.

Biene added that Sub-Saharan Africa has become very important for the sustainability of Volkswagen.

“The future of Volkswagen is in Africa. We are therefore accelerating our growth strategy on the continent by playing a pioneering and leading role in the development of the automotive industry,” she said.

Volkswagen already has a presence in 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where it sells passenger and commercial vehicles through licensed importers.

“We will continue to grow the Volkswagen brand in these markets and strengthen our after sales support to customers. Ongoing training is provided to technical staff at the Volkswagen locations to meet customer requirements and expectations,” Biene added.

Rwanda, with an economy growing at close to 8 percent shows significant potential for increased mobility solutions and electric vehicles due to its relatively young, tech-savvy population and growing middle class.

“Rwanda has been the success story of our growth plans in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the innovation hub of our sustainable mobility lighthouse projects on the continent.” said Biene.

The company’s mobility solutions services business, which includes ride hailing and corporate car sharing, reportedly broke even last year.

Traton already rules in Kenya and Tanzania

Volkswagen’s heavy commercial vehicle arm is already ruling in Tanzania and Kenya through its MAN and Scania trucks and buses that dominate transport industry in the region.