Interview: Moshen from Car Care Tech

Moshen from Car Care Tech

My friend Moshen has been working as a mechanic in Kigali for years but he’s recently launched Car Care Tech to take his business to the next level. He’s a great mechanic, understands the industry here, and is an all around nice and trustworthy guy. If you have a car in Rwanda, having Moshen’s number will make your car-related life infinitely less stressful. Check out the Car Care Tech website, the Facebook page, email him at moshenabdul11@gmail.com, or stick his number (0730 536 841) in your phone for any future questions or car emergencies.

Tell us a bit about yourself. (where from, how long in Kigali).

Hi I’m Moshen Abdul. I was born in Uganda, have lived in Kenya but I came to Rwanda many years ago and been living here since.

What brought you to Kigali and why did you stick around?

I came to Kigali to visit friends and family I knew who were living here but I decided to stay because it seemed a lovely a peaceful place to live. As it’s a smaller city than say Kampala or Nairobi I also recognized there was potential for business opportunities here. I still travel back to Uganda regularly though to visit family who still live there.

What kind of work do you do in Kigali?

I’m a mechanic for motor vehicles, my Diploma in Mechanics is from Kampala. I really enjoy solving mechanical issues and the like the logical nature of the work and finding the causes then solutions of problems. My joy and passion however is music and I’m a percussionist in a reggae band. You’ll usually find me singing while I’m doing mechanics so always nice to combine the two!

What are some challenges you face with being a mechanic in Kigali?

Like all sectors there are a few challenges working in mechanics in Kigali.

First, there’s a real scarcity of car parts in Rwanda, often I work with my contacts in Uganda or Kenya to source parts for my customers. With the more common vehicles like RAV 4 we can usually find parts in country but for newer models or less common makes the availability of parts is a challenge. Related to this is the lack of electrical testing equipment for newer cars, its available but can be difficult to source the equipment.

Another challenge to work is that the market is flooded with mechanics who are not professionally trained. These mechanics can sometimes produce poor quality work which undermines the profession as a whole. This is improving though and there are some vocational training programs available in Rwanda these days.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to rent a car?

If you want to rent a car there are some of the larger international car rental companies in Rwanda at the airport. Alternatively people can rent cars privately from other owners. The insurance system here in Rwanda means that the car is insured and not the person, so anyone with a full drivers license can drive any car. Renting privately can happen for long or short term.

I would recommend that people do a quick check over of the car and think of the following:

  1.  Check the car documents- the yellow book, the insurance and the control technique
  2.  Take its for a test drive around Kigali- does it drive well? Stall on hills? Any noticeable issues?
  3. If you know a little about engines, open the hood and check the oil levels, the water levels and the breaks.
  4. Make sure your lights are working on dim and full and indicator and parking lights.
  5. Otherwise give me a call and Ill arrange for you!

Tell us about Car Care Tech (CCT).

Car Care Tech is my business, which developed organically when friends and friends of friends who’ve asked for help with their vehicles. I began to realise how confusing it can be for newly arrived people in Rwanda or for those without local knowledge or language to navigate the car industry. Car services are usually informal in Rwanda – information is hard to access, mechanics are difficult to reach and may not speak English, the systems for import and registration can be confusing and there’s no benchmarking for prices. I’ve set up Car Care Tech to help people navigate around these issues.

You also offer import and export services for cars. How does that work?

Buying a car is easy! Getting into Rwanda is not quite as straightforward. You’ll need to follow a clear process after you purchase a vehicle aboard. Ill try explain it here:

  • Your purchase document from the vehicle must go to a customs clearing agent at the port where it will be sent (usually Dar es Salaam or Mombasa). You can hire a clearing agent who handles the port fees for unloading on behalf of the client and there are plenty of companies doing this work. They all have standardized pricing from their governments but, in my experience, some companies are much quicker at clearing shipments than others.
  • Once cleared at the port your vehicle moves into the hands of the person driving it to Kigali. A GPS must be installed in the vehicle to allow tracking of the vehicle at the border of Tanzania and Kenya and its removed at the border when entering Rwanda. In addition, insurance to the final destination must be taken out for the journey. Then it’s a long long, long drive to the border.
  • At the Rwandan border there are private companies who are customs clearing agents, their job is to receive cars coming into the country and contact Magerwa in Kigali to tell them that a vehicle is on its way. Magerwa is the government agency in Rwanda where revenues and import taxes are paid. When the vehicle arrives to Kigali it goes directly to Magerwa in Gikondo where the clearing company you hired at the border will process it. There are set prices on the import duties and taxes payable to the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) based on the value of the car. As a rough guide, expect to pay about 50% of the value of the car as a general rule of thumb. This is paid at the Rwanda Revenue authority in Kimihurura.
  • License plates are put on the car at Magerwa.

Once all of this is done, the car needs to be insured and have a control technique to get on the road motoring!

Can you explain a bit about Control Technique.

Control Technique is where the car goes to be checked by the police to ensure its roadworthiness. A general mechanical check is performed – breaks, suspension, lights, windscreen, body of the car, engine, tires, and general condition of the car are all assessed. This costs Rwf 10,000 and must be paid in advance at an I & M Bank. The testing center is in Remera opposite the stadium.

If the car fails the test, the problems to be fixed are noted and these must be fixed before re-testing.

What are your hopes and plans for Car Care Tech?

I hope CCT serves its clients well and makes motoring life easy for them. I hope to see the business expand and increase its client base and in the near future with quality, efficient service and that more and more people will spread the word and the business will expand. Currently I have four people working with me and hope to see this grow as the business grows.

How do you think Car Care Tech stands out from the other mechanics and car importers in Kigali?

As far as I know, Car Care Tech is the only company doing a full range of professional, comprehensive auto services in Rwanda. Whether it’s a import, buying, repairs, breakdown, motorbikes, insurance claims etc. I can coordinate all this for you. In some ways it’s like an auto concierge service, what I can’t fix myself, I can connect you with the right person to do so. I also offer a door-to-door pick up and drop off service to be as convenient as possible. I want to be as transparent as possible so I agree all prices after reviewing the car with its owner and provide printed invoices for my customers.

Tell us about your band and the music you play.

I’m a percussionist in one of Rwanda’s longest running reggae bands called Holy Jah Doves. We have regular gigs Friday nights and also do corporate events and are hired for special occasions from time to time. We play Kigali Up! each year and some other East African music festivals. We’ve recorded a few songs here in Rwanda which is always fun.

Where are some of your favourite places to watch live music in Kigali?

My favorite place is anywhere and everywhere there is live music in the city. Hilltop Hotel Friday nights, occasional gigs at Heaven, White Horse, Goethe Institute etc.

What do you think of the reggae scene in Rwanda?

Good question! I think the scene is small but has potential to grow. As reggae is mostly sung in English and as more and more Rwandas speak English the music is opening up to them. I think the message of reggae transcends any language though. There are about 10 reggae bands in Rwanda which is really too few. It’s still lacking that critical mass of people to make it a ‘scene’. Gigs are informal as well and usually poorly advertised – mostly just through word of mouth so I think this makes it difficult for people to know about it. For now its mostly confined among the Rastafari community in Kigali but this is changing – who knows, in some years perhaps Kigali will be hub for reggae?

About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.