By Moses Akaigwe
One of the big participants in the HYPERLINK “https://www.intrafricantradefair.com/en”Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF) that ended yesterday in Durban, South Africa, has stated that the fair provided a veritable forum to move Africa’s automotive industry forward.
The fair focused on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which Nissan believes provides a platform to continue the growth trajectory and impact of the automotive industry on the continent.
“Though Africa is seeing booming population growth and rapid urbanisation, we lag behind significantly in motorisation rate, which will grow to from 1.1 to 5-million vehicles by 2035,” said Mike Whitfield, Managing Director, Nissan Africa Regional Business Unit. “To capitalise on the impact AfCFTA can have in unlocking our economic potential, we need to create automotive hubs to begin trading regionally and then across Africa, as well as provide safe and affordable mobility solutions on the continent.”
IATF is the premier trade event in Africa. Throughout the week-long event, government, industry and non-profit stakeholders will have pivotal discussions on the implementation of AfCFTA – the creation of single market for goods and services across 55 countries, aimed at boosting trade and investment.
A highlight of the programme was be the IATF Automotive Show on Tuesday, November16, which presented a platform for car manufacturers, assemblers, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and component suppliers to exhibit their products and interact with potential buyers, suppliers and governments.
Nissan has long been a supporter of the automotive industry’s development in Africa. With several decades of operations on the continent and a footprint spanning 48 markets, the company has invested in setting up manufacturing and assembly facilities to create a sub-regional hubs in the market.
This includes 100 percent Nissan investment manufacturing operations in Egypt and South Africa in addition to assembly facilities in Ghana and Nigeria. The South African operation which recently began producing the all-new Nissan Navara after a R3-billion investment in plant upgrades and skills development, serves as a gateway to the remainder of the continent, with a vision to grow exports beyond the region.
“Our success at the Rosslyn Plant in South Africa is a proof point for the potential of the African automotive manufacturing industry,” says Kabelo Rabotho, Managing Director, Nissan South Africa. “We’ve shown the potential to innovate, create world-class products, and positively impact the communities in which we operate. This is the standard we will hold for all of our new ventures on the continent.”
As part of this expansion, Nissan has played a role in shaping automotive policy, working closely with government to create ideal environments for manufacturing expansion, evidenced by being a first mover in Nigeria.
“We at Nissan are committed to creating a coalition of willing governments and partners to create a sustainable continental automotive manufacturing industry that will shape the future of the African economy,” continued Whitfield.
Beyond exhibiting at the event, Nissan participated in events in support of public-private partnership and increasing economic opportunity in Africa. Mike Whitfield, also in his capacity as President of the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM), participated in various closed-door sessions with heads of state, as well as spoke on a panel on Tuesday, November 16, titled “Accelerating the Automotive Sector in Africa.”