Volkswagen to assemble electric cars in Rwanda

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Thomas Schafer, the Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen South Africa, signs a memorandum of understanding with former RDB Chief Executive Officer, Francis Gatare, last year for the company to start assembling cars. / File

Rwanda Environment Management Authority has said that the plan by the German car maker ‘Volkswagen’ to assemble electric cars as part of the environmentally friendly model vehicles is timely since different studies have revealed that vehicles emissions have major contribution to air pollution in Rwanda especially in Kigali city. 

According to Rwanda Development Board, the car manufacturer has completed a feasibility study to assemble cars with low fuel consumption and gas emissions in Rwanda, including electric cars. It will introduce high capacity transport buses and basic works  to set up an assembly plant producing at least 5,000 vehicles per year could start before the end of this year. 

The CEO of RDB Clare Akamanzi recently announced the move during the meeting with directors of commercial companies in Rwanda with the aim to create a platform for sharing ideas of shaping investment development. 

Remy Duhuze,  the Director of Environmental Regulation and Pollution Control at Rwanda Environment Management Authority ( REMA) told Sunday Times that the move could help boost green transport in Rwanda considering that  vehicles emissions highly contribute to air pollution. 

“The proposal is a very good step forward towards reducing air pollution  and greenhouse gases emissions. A study conducted by REMA in 2011 indicated that vehicles have an important contribution to air pollution in Rwanda especially in Kigali city,” he said. 

“We met the investors after they signed an agreement with the government last year but at that time there was no idea of electric cars and seeing they are moving to electric cars it is a further step. We have to collaborate on this new development”. 

Recently, the Minister for Natural resources, Vincent Biruta told Sunday Times that one part of Kigali city in Gasabo district could transformed into model green city for green cities where electric cars (vehicles use rechargeable batteries) instead of using oil will also be introduced as part of model green city concepts with green transport. 

The city also plans to ease traffic congestion by introducing high capacity buses that will transport large volumes of passengers to reduce air pollution by limiting use of cars in the city.

Vehicle emissions in Kigali 
 
According to Duhuze, the benefits of electric cars must be considered by looking at the 2011 study by REMA titled ‘Air pollution in Rwanda with reference to Kigali city and vehicular emissions’.  

The study report indicates that air pollution is widespread in Kigali where vehicles are the major contributors and are of particular concern since these are ground level with maximum impact on the general population. 

It shows that a greenhouse gas emissions inventory developed indicated that the majority of emissions were Carbon dioxide dominated by transport with 52% of car emissions. 

The study highlights that Rwanda’s transport sector is entirely dependent on imported fuel and consumes approximately 75% of all the country’s imported petroleum products. 

Rwanda Vision 2020 estimates that petroleum product consumption will increase by over 10% per annum and will therefore be an increasing source of emissions, it shows. 

“The main driver for the growth of carbon dioxide emissions is increased petrol and diesel. Low carbon options would therefore have benefits in reducing the potential future problem of air quality especially in Kigali City,” reads the report. 

It recommends  to promote the use of renewable energy sources  as fuel,  put in place an efficient and convenient public transport system within Kigali City,  introducing buses with higher capacity such as the long buses or articulated buses, to create a conducive for green transport  (walking and cycling ) where is possible . 

It further recommends introducing a subsidy to encourage the use of eco-cars, specifications of fuels to be used in Rwanda, pilot Green Transport Fund to encourage the introduction of innovative transport technology among others.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw