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A car at Volkswagen's assembling plant in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 27, 2018. (Photo by CYRIL NDEGEYA/AFP/Getty Images)

This New Pilot Program is Bringing Electric Cars to the Streets of Rwanda

Citing a strong electricity grid in Kigali, Volkswagen is rolling out a Rwandan version of their "e-Golf."

Rwanda is now the first country on the continent to feature fully electric cars from Volkswagen. Starting today, there will be four models of the popular Golf model, now dubbed "e-Golf," on the streets as part of partnership between Volkswagen and Siemens to test the viability of electric cars in Africa. According to pro-government newspaper, The New Times, Rwanda was chosen because Kigali's strong energy infrastructure would support the building of charging stations throughout the city without disturbing businesses and residents.


Thomas Schaefer, Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen in South Africa, first confirmed the release of Volkswagen's plans in Rwanda in February. "We did a grid check-in Rwanda together with GRZ and Siemens last year and they are ready. They already get their electricity from 70 percent renewable energy and that will change to 100 percent in the next 10 years," he told ITNews Africa.

The cars, as the BBC reports, can cover 142 miles (230 kilometers) on a single full charge if conditions are good. While it is exciting news, the cars are not up for public, consumer purchase just yet. Instead, the small fleet of cars are part of a pilot program and still belong to Volkswagen—but they plan on using them with their ride-share app Move. Officials tied to the firm report that they will use information gained from consumer responses and performance reports of the car in the app to influence further phases of the pilot project, assessment of the environment for electric cars and to know when and how to enter the consumer market across the continent.

Currently the e-cars' parts are mainly manufactured in other countries and then assembled at the Volkswagen plant in Kigali, which opened last year. Currently, there is only one charging station, also located at the plant, but Siemens is planning to expand to 15 stations around the city in the coming months as with the inclusion of more e-Golfs, the New Times reports. It is hoping to help solve a small issue reported this summer that Rwanda was producing more energy than it was using and firms were encouraged to use more energy.

The news of the e-Golfs follows closely behind Rwanda's recent announcement of providing the first Made in Africa smartphone.

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John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

This Official is on Trial for His Alleged Role in the Rwandan Genocide

71-year-old Fabien Neretse has been charged with 13 murders which took place between April and July of 1994.

Seventy-one-year-old Fabien Neretse, a former senior Rwandan official, appeared in a Brussels court in Belgium yesterday. He is currently on trial for his alleged involvement in 13 murders which occurred during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. According to News24, this is the first time a Belgian case has explicitly charged Neretse with genocide.

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Photo courtesy of MASS Design Group.

The African Design Center is Birthing a New Generation of African Architects and Designers

In this interview, Rwandan architect and designer, Christian Benimana, says that the 'African city' does not exist and suggests that the continent look to urbanizing without necessarily creating cities.

When Christian Benimana left Rwanda to study architecture in China in the early 2000s, he inadvertently bore witness to one of the world's biggest building booms. During that time, China underwent one of the most rapid urbanization in the history of the earth. But behind the glittering skyscrapers and brand new urban neighborhoods, says Benimana, in a TED Talk from last year, is a much darker story. "Behind these facades was the exploitation of huge numbers of migrant workers and the massive displacement of thousands of people that made these projects possible. As countries in Africa undergo massive rates of urbanization, it's these lessons in city building from his time in China that come to the front.

Benimana is the principal at MASS Design Group in Rwanda, a firm that has carried out architectural projects in Rwanda and broader Africa over the past 10 years. He has become the lead in implementing the African Design Center.

The African Design Center, the project-based apprenticeship established by the MASS Design Group, is committed to a more sustainable model of architecture. The ultimate goal is to begin a movement of young and inspired people who will completely upend what we have come to know as conventional architecture. By incubating talent and redesigning curriculums, the Africa Design Center is attempting to envision what development in Africa needs to start looking like outside of the Western conceptions of development being imposed on the continent. Schools are a particular focus for the center as it challenges what schools should look like and how their architecture goes hand-in-hand with the education African children receive.

We caught up with Benimana to talk more about the African Design Center's ambitious vision and his own personal views on the state of cities on the continent right now.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Watch Reason and Ginger Trill’s Music Video for Their Politically Charged Single ‘Cashless Society’

Reason and Ginger Trill share grimy visuals for 'Cashless Society.'

Reason has finally released the visuals for "Cashless Society," one of the strongest songs in his latest album, 2018's Azania.

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Listen to Davido's New Album 'A Good Time'

The 17-track album features Naira Marley, Zlatan, Popcaan, Summer Walker and more.

Davido's much anticipated sophomore album A Good Time has finally dropped. Trust us when we say that it's aptly named. Seven years after his debut album Genesis and a string of incredibly successful singles and collaborations with the likes of Demola, Big Narstie and Jeremih, the Nigerian superstar is in top-form on this new 17-track project. Naira Marley, Zlatan, Popcaan, Yonda, Summer Walker, Wurld, Dremo and several other talented artists are featured on the album.

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