The Nissan Group of Africa has requested for an automotive master-plan that could make the most of the existing regional trade agreements in ECOWAS to build an automotive industry that isn’t just sustainable but internationally competitive.
Nissan made this appeal through its Director of Sales and Operations, Jim Dando, who said instead of allowing every country in the sub-region, own a vehicle assembly plant, which might not be economically viable, some countries should rather concentrate on their areas of proportional advantage.
“We would rather strategically create opportunities, that some might specialize in providing tyres, others batteries and shock absorbers, while those countries who do not ultimately assemble vehicles won’t all make the same vehicles because it doesn’t make sense to compete against each other.”
Mr. Dando who was speaking against the growing demand for vehicle plants in the sub-region said, “Investing in an automotive plant is a huge undertaking, where there have to be incentives in place for the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and there has to be a very strong message against grey import market because these cars are being brought in cheaper than we can make them”
He said grey imports are hugely problematic, not just because they skew the market, but they create expectations about after-sales service, which the manufacturers often can’t meet because the vehicles aren’t formerly made for African conditions and therefore, there can’t be spares or trained technicians to service them.
The Nissan Group of Africa director therefore called on the various governments in the sub-region to be proactive and shouldn’t be misled by the huge revenue in duties that accrue from grey imports as to jettison the unprecedented opportunities associated with industrialization.