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Volkswagen has established a sub-Saharan regional division to develop and strengthen the African market.
The new entity joins existing regions of North America, South America and China and, according to the company, represents the next step in positioning itself in global markets. The division will be headed by Thomas Schäfer, Chairman and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa.
Sub-Sahara comprises 49 states and has a total population of some 920 million.
Commenting on the reasons for the brand’s engagement in Africa, Schäfer said: “Africa is still one of the blank spots on the Volkswagen map. There is, however, enormous potential in the region to meet the mobility needs of a burgeoning middle class.
“We will drive forward the development of these new markets in cooperation with various African governments – and gradually strengthen and expand the new Sub-Saharan Africa region.”
Volkswagen has three operational centres in sub-Sahara – South Africa, where the brand has been building cars since 1951; Nigeria, where vehicle assembly began in 2015; and Kenya, which began assembling CDK kits in December last year.
The company plans to launch an integrated mobility concept in Rwanda at the end of this year, using app-based mobility solutions such as car sharing and ride hailing. To meet expected consumer demand for cars, a local vehicle production facility will be established in the capital, Kigali.
Schäfer, an engineer who began his career with Volkswagen AG in 2012 as Head of Group Production (Foreign Plants), has held senior management posts at Daimler AG in South Africa and Malaysia. Since February 2015, he has headed up Volkswagen Group South Africa.
Under his guidance, the company’s Uitenhage plant recently produced its 1 250 000th Polo, Volkswagen Uitenhage produces its 1 250 000th Polo. The milestone also marked 21 years of the production of Polo in South Africa.