• Friday, February 23, 2024
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SA reaffirms US investors’ interest in Nigeria’s auto industry

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Ford, General Motors weigh options – NADDC

Some automobile manufacturers, representing US brands in South Africa, have renewed their interest in setting up auto assembly plants in Nigeria as soon as possible.

American automakers in South Africa, the hub of automotive imports into sub-Saharan Africa, have at various times described Nigeria as a market with huge potential that can not be ignored by any serious industry player. The automakers include Ford and General Motors.

In a telephone discussion with BusinessDay, Monday, on the sideline of the ‘Ford Go Further’ event in Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, some of the automakers said they were still watching with keen interest, the new Nigerian government’s pronouncement on the ongoing auto policy initiated by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Only last weekend, the US embassy in Abuja, through its Counsellor for Economic Affairs, Alan Tousignant, said the recent visit by President Buhari to the US had triggered off enquiries from potential investors on Nigeria’s automotive industry.

Tousignant said this when he visited the director-general of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) last Friday in Abuja.

According to Bello Rasheed, principal executive officer (information), NADDC, in a statement, Tousignant visited to make enquiries on the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP).

Tousignant said he was at the NADDC to get answers for the deluge of enquiries from the American government and its business community on Nigeria’s National Automotive Industrial Development Plan (NAIDP).

Aminu Jalal, NADDC’s director-general, and Luqman Mamudu, the council’s director of policy and planning, received and briefed the US team.

The statement said: “ Tousignant said that there had been an upsurge in the amount of business enquiries from America since the recent visit of President Buhari to the US.

“He told the NADDC DG that quite a number of the latest enquiries from potential American investors were on the Nigeria auto industry.

“Therefore, he needed to know about applicable staff structure, incentives, availability of skilled personnel, current total installed capacity, local value addition and industrial clusters and infrastructure. He also asked questions on applicable safety standards, annual national vehicle demand, export potential to other countries, among others.’’

Jalal, while commending the interest shown by American companies and businessmen in the industry, told his visitors that two American automobile firms, Ford Motors and General Motors, had confirmed their interest in starting vehicle assembly operations in 2016.

The auto policy is intended to transform Nigeria into a major vehicle-manufacturing hub for leveraging on the country’s abundant trainable labour force and material resources, especially the petrochemical-based, he said.

“The NADDC boss told Tousignant and members of his team that with a population of over 170 million, Nigeria could not continue to run an import dependent economy,’’ the statement said.

BusinessDay recalled that the Federal Government launched the NAIDP in 2014, to limit excessive automobile imports and promote massive investments in affordable made-in-Nigeria cars.

On his assumption of office, stakeholders in the automotive industry had expressed fears that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would discard the policy, but he used the US visit to assure investors of his commitment to the development of the auto industry, and this the South African automakers had reiterated.