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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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Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Black Coffee’s ‘Africa Is Not A Jungle’ Showcase Lockdown Edition Will be Hosted Online Every Week

Black Coffee's 'Africa Is Not A Jungle' showcase goes online amid the lockdown.

With festivals, concerts and events around the world having been postponed and cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Black Coffee's company Soulistic Agency will be presenting a Lockdown edition of Africa Is Not A Jungle. A Is Not A Jungle is the South African house music superstar's tour which had dates across South Africa and other parts of the continent—Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola and Uganda. The tour was put on hold in March soon after President Cyril Ramaphosa banned social gatherings of more than 100 people.

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Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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News Brief

Stogie T’s Visuals for ‘Love & War’ Use Contrasting Colors to Explore the Complexity of Heroism

Stogie T shares polarizing visuals for 'Love & War.'

A few months ago, Stogie T highlighted the song "Love & War" as a single from his latest EP The Empire of Sheep, released in November 2019. After releasing a deluxe version of the project last week, today the south African emcee shares a music video for "Love & War," which features the emerging vocalist Lucille Slade.

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Photo courtesy of Upile Chisala.

Join Upile Chisala For Soothing Readings of Her Latest Works

Malawian poet Upile Chisala is set to deliver readings from her three poetry collections on Instagram Live.

Malawian poet Upile Chisala is set to deliver readings of her latest works of poetry on Instagram Live this week.

On the 8th of April, she'll be hosting a session where she'll read from her first two works Soft Magic and Nectar while the session on the 9th of April will include a reading from her latest work titled A Fire Like You. Both sessions will take place at 8 PM (SAST).

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