Local technical school dreams of making first Rwandan car

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Eric Hakizimana test-drives one of the prototype cars assembled by EMVTC students. / Elisee Mpirwa

About two minutes drive from Kigali International Airport, a young entrepreneur has set up a technical school named The Expert Motor-Vehicle and Technical College (EMVTC) Remera.

At first sight one could mistake it for a garage though sign posts indicate that there is a school where classes are being attended by young people aspiring to become mechanics.

Wrecked cars and motorcycles can be seen from the school gate, with experienced mechanics show trainees different parts of a car. Freshmen undergoing driving lessons can also be seen inside. But one question that lingers on is: What is EMVTC Remera’s mission?

The 34-year-old director and founder of the school, Jacques Nshimiye, told Education Times that their dream is to make a car in few years to come, explaining that they can presently assemble cars using parts from old cars.

The courses taught here focus more on the technical part of different types of cars, but with help from others experienced mechanics, students get to know slowly about the body of vehicles.

EMVTC students have managed to build a prototype of car that can move, which the school showcased at the last Expo Rwanda 2016 in Gikondo.

“Some countries in East Africa have already started car-making projects, an example being Uganda. Why not us in Rwanda? With the Made in Rwanda campaign, we hope to make great strides in manufacturing more homemade items using our local technicians,” Nshimiye said.

“Given the progress so far, I can say that in the near future cars will be built here in Rwanda. That knowledge to assemble abandoned spare parts and make from them a moving car shows we have potential. So, yes we will make our own car soon,” he added.

Last December, German carmaker Volkswagen signed an agreement with Government of Rwanda to explore the setting up of a local assembly plant in Rwanda, and Nshimiye sees this as a golden opportunity for TVET schools essentially in the field of mechanics.

“We will have to contribute to this because those planning to start an assembly plant in the country will need a workforce that has knowledge on car systems,” he said.

Eric Hakizimana, a trainee, is optimistic of a brighter future as with knowledge in mechanics.

“I can dissemble the whole car and assemble again, and so can many of us here. This proves that we can build a car. Though we lack many materials, soon we will build a Rwandan car for sure,” said Hakizimana.

EMVTC Remera has so far produced over 600 graduates who can be traced in Kigali’s major garages.

The school also attracts trainees from Uganda and Burundi. Trainees either study for one year to obtain a WDA certificate or some choose to go for three year and get an A2 diploma.

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