, THIKA, Kenya Dec 21 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday inaugurated the Volkswagen production facility at Thika with a call to Kenyans to buy products that are made, assembled or value added in the country.
The President welcomed the decision by the Volkswagen Group to invest in Kenya, saying it resonated well with his Administration’s stated policy to industrialize the economy.
“We have adopted this policy because we know that industrialization is the surest way to the destination we seek to achieve, that of a prosperous Kenya. A Kenya that makes the best use of the energy and enterprise of our most important asset, our young people,” the President said.
During the inauguration of the vehicle assembling facility, President Kenyatta drove, on test drive, the first Volkswagen car assembled in Kenya in four decades. The test drive of the VW Polo Vivo signified the roll out of production line at the Thika Volkswagen production facility.
The President underscored that the inauguration of the automobile production facility was only the start of the journey the country has embarked on to industrialize the economy, under the strategy dubbed ‘Kenya Industrialization Transformation Programme’.
“I assure the Volkswagen Group of our unqualified support to seeing this project succeed. This is just a start. We will do more in the shortest possible time,” President Kenyatta said.
Noting that the Thika VW vehicle assembling plant will create jobs for Kenyans, President Kenyatta said the national and county government should buy vehicles from the facility to boost its sales.
“With the opening of this facility, I expect to see a lot of VW Government vehicles. I hope the county governments will also buy Volkswagen cars,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta affirmed his administration’s commitment to nurture a vibrant automotive sector that will create jobs for the youth and accelerate the country’s economy.
“This we plan to achieve through supportive and progressive policies, and laws and regulations that will see a rapid shift from this initial investment to a full and scaled-up assembly,” President Kenyatta said.
He commended the German Government, the Volkswagen Group and other German businesses which have pledged to provide training not only for people working at the Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers facility but also to build capacity for the entire automotive sector.
Speaking during the event, Volkswagen Brand CEO Herbert Diess thanked President Kenyatta for supporting the establishment of the Thika VW production facility.
Diess noted that it was President Kenyatta’s meeting with officials of Volkswagen in Berlin, Germany, earlier in the year that gave impetus to the rival of the automotive facility that was being re-opened.
“We thank you President for your support that has seen this project – which was only a dream a few months ago – become a reality in less than a year,” Diess said.
He promised that the automotive assembling facility will produce high quality and affordable vehicle for the Kenyan and East African markets.
Other speakers included Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, Volkswagen South Africa Managing Director Thomas Schaefer and DT Dobie CEO Zarah Khan.