EAST LONDON, South Africa, Jan 13 – German carmaker Volkswagen is looking to double production in Kenya and to introduce a new model at its plant in Thika, a huge boost for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four action plan.
VW South Africa head Thomas Schaefer told President Kenyatta at a meeting in the South African town of East London that the firm was exploring producing a second model in Kenya, possibly a hatchback (small SUV), while doubling production of the VW Polo Vivo to at least 300 vehicles.
Growing the automotive industry is one of the key elements of the President’s industrialisation agenda, part of the Big Four plan of delivering affordable housing, universal healthcare for all, food and nutrition, security and increased manufacturing.
President Kenyatta welcomed VW’s commitment to growth of its Kenya facility, saying that the country had a ready market for cars produced in Kenya, provided that they were sold at affordable prices.
“We will walk this journey with you to produce affordable cars. Our plea is that you price these vehicles reasonably,” the President said.
“We are very keen that our youth, a highly educated group, can get to work in a company of great technological sophistication as VW, which is why we welcome your plans to go full throttle to increase production,” President Kenyatta said.
Schaefer is also responsible for VW’s operations in Africa. His vision is to see a successful operation in Kenya in the east, Nigeria in the west, and South Africa. Kenya’s interest is to grow a major auto manufacturing plant, with the capacity to meet the supply needs of East and Central Africa.
VW set up in Kenya in 2016, and its first car rolled off the ramp less than a year later.
Last year, French carmaker Peugeot started manufacturing cars in Kenya, while Japanese vehicle manufacturing giant Toyota started assembling some models in Kenya in 2015.
President Kenyatta met Schaefer in the margins of meetings with the South African ruling party ANC. Boosting relations between the two countries, especially manufacturing and agriculture to grow jobs for youth in both countries, is at the heart of talks he is holding.