Industry players call for strong political will for Africa’s automotive sector
During a side event at the ongoing second Africa Prosperity Dialogues in Aburi, Eastern Region, they noted that Africa had the resources and capacity to meet continental demands and export products into other parts of the world.
It is, therefore, important for governments across the continent to be bold about implementing existing automotive policies to support the achievement of the goals of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Specifically, they urged governments on the continent to ban the use of overaged vehicles, increase taxes and duties on imported fully-built cars, and roll out policies on components manufacturing.
That, they said, would create the difference in local manufacturers producing more to meet market demands, and encourage more companies to establish assembling plants across the continent.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency after the event, Mr Salem Kalmoni, Managing Director, Japan Motors Trading Company Limited, said: “We actually have over capacity to assemble and produce cars and other automotive in Africa. What’s needed is a strong political will.”
He noted for example that, though Japan Motors assembling plant in Tema could assemble close to 10,000 cars annually, it only does about 5,000 annually, due to the lack of strong will to implement existing policies.
“We’ve made a lot of investment and we’re ready to expand; what we need now is the right enabling environment to implement the automotive policies. If that happens, it will boost local assembly plants and make more competitive and make prices of cars and other automotive affordable,” he said.
Mr Francis Kudjordjie, General Manager, Katanka Automobile, a Ghanaian owned automotive manufacturing company, called for deliberate effort to have a module for manufacturing of various automobiles in Africa, including electric vehicles, bicycles and tricycles.
He said: “Assuming that we’ve designed a car particularly for Africa, and we’re producing one million units of that car, we’ll be looking at about five million tyres, millions of lights and other body parts, which we have the capacity to produce.”
“We have the capacity, the men and resources. What’s is left is the political will of our governments to drive this initiative. If our leaders are willing to do that, in the next five years, we’ll be building our own cars,” Mr Kudjordjie said.
Dr Theo Acheampong, an Economist, encouraged the players to be keen on advocacy to remove the bottlenecks, noting that the automotive sector is one of the cornerstones for any industrialisation in Africa.
He noted that the establishment of assembling plants and laws, making imported vehicles relatively expensive than locally assembled ones, had sparked interest in people demanding for locally assembled cars.
“More public advocacy, road and trade shows to be done for people to know that these cars have been made in Africa, and they meet all the international safety and quality checks, and cost competitive,” the Economist said.
“If we want to create a continent that’s able to create sustainable jobs for its citizens, this is one of the ways to go. We must think about it as an ecosystem, then, we’ll see the synergies and how it translates into economic growth,” he said.