Volkswagen, the second largest luxury car making company in the world has increased its activities in Africa by signing an MoU with the government of Ghana to create an assembly facility in the country.
This was announced on Thursday the 30th of August, 2018 with the signing of the deal presided by Dr. Angela Merkel; the Chancellor of Germany, and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia; the Vice President of Ghana.
The deal was signed by the Minister of Trade and Industry; Alan Kyeremanten, and the Managing Director of VW Africa, Thomas Schaefer.
Unsurprisingly, Ghanaians took to social media to let their sentiments be known about the agreement as the conversation had to take the dive of #SupportMadeInGhanaGoods.
This came up because many people believed that Apostle Dr. Kwadwo Safo Kantanka, who is the founder of the Kantanka Group of Companies, the makers of the Kantanka cars deserved a lot more help from the government of Ghana.
Despite my reservations to clearly outline a stance on this matter here I will like to draw our attention to something equally as important if not more so.
Volkswagen had been hit and is still reeling from a scandal referred to hereafter as ‘dieselgate’.
A brief summary of the scandal is that Volkswagen rigged their turbocharged direct injection (TDI) to activate its emissions control feature during laboratory trials which were needed in order to check if the cars met regulatory standards.
The kicker is the fact that in real world driving scenarios, it was discovered that the car actually emitted 40x more than its laboratory reports showed. Naturally no one was pleased with that.
So, Volkswagen pulled this stunt in the United States of America and did beat the system, but only for a while.
The USA EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) clamped down on this scheme and this was after series of tests.
Ghana has an EPA but to be honest, they are barely visible, they are hardly in the news checking on environmental issues.
This could very well be because, Ghana doesn’t have any substantial carbon emissions and the like but seeing some areas that the EPA should have exercised all its clout to ensure regulations are met it didn’t.
With the background I have painted, my questions here are simple; will Volkswagen pull off another ‘dieselgate’ scheme in Ghana and other African countries it is setting up facilities in? Because it will be cheaper to assemble and sell such cars and the likelihood of there being checks and balances regarding emissions to keep them in check I feel is highly unlikely.
My next question is equally as elementary. Is the EPA of Ghana and the other African countries that are signing on to this deal going to be well equipped and capable of handling such an eventuality (a dieselgate-esque occurrence)?
Another question is what exactly is the full scope of this deal between Ghana and Volkswagen?
There are so many questions that I feel are far more important than the whole Kantanka and government support argument.
And these are questions I seriously wonder the answers to because it is a big deal.
All in all, I am liking Volkswagen’s move to Ghana.
It serves as a possible jump for Ghana into a true industrial revolution and while we are on the subject of carmakers coming to Ghana, I would love Daimler (Mercedes) and Tesla to come through. A man can dream.