The federal government has commenced the inspection of local automotive assembly plants across the country as part of the implementation plan of the Nigeria Automotive Industry Development Plan.
During the inspection of the Peugeot Automotive Nigeria (PAN) car assembly plant in Kaduna, Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said that more local and international investors were taking advantage of the huge opportunities provided by the new automotive plan to invest in Nigeria.
The minister said: “I am greatly encouraged by the facilities I have seen here at PAN’s car assembly plant in Kaduna, which I am told is the biggest in West Africa. It shows that we are not just starting from the scratch when we say that we want to encourage automobile companies to establish and assemble their cars here in Nigeria, in line with the new automotive policy.
“One of the reasons PAN’s massive and world class facility, which used to employ about 4,000 Nigerians, went under was the absence of a comprehensive and holistic auto policy that takes care of the entire automotive value chain. This is what the new auto policy wants to address.”
He added: “Also, I have been greatly encouraged by the announcements that have been made by reputable and global OEMS that they are coming to establish their automotive assembly plants in Nigeria. Nissan has said it is coming to Nigeria, and that its first car will be produced in the country by April. They have already sent their technical team and are working with their local partners in Nigeria.
“Hyundai is also coming to assembly its vehicles in Nigeria and has already sent its SDKs into the country; Innoson has already signed an agreement with two Chinese companies to expand its existing automobile assembly plant. These show that we have made remarkable progress just within a period of four months since the policy was approved and announced.”
He also reaffirmed the commitment of the federal government to the full implementation of the auto policy, and stressed that government would continue to provide an enabling environment and level playing field for all stakeholders in the auto industry.
“So far, we have been pleasantly surprised by the positive response from local and international investors who are already taking advantage or have signified their interest in leveraging the huge opportunities provided by the new automotive policy. As a matter of fact, it took many years for some automobile manufacturing countries to attract the level of attention and interest which Nigeria is getting today. For example, when South Africa came up with their auto policy, they had to go to each of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to convince them to come and invest in South Africa.
“It took time for the OEMs to come to invest in South Africa. As big as Toyota is, they did not come on day one; South Africans set it up and gradually they came into the country. However, the reverse is the case for us in Nigeria. Since the policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) about four months ago, almost every OEM is excited about it because they believe that it is one of the most comprehensive policies we have in place, which is also holistic across the board.” He said.
According to him, OEMs currently sees Nigeria as the place they have to be because the opportunities are here.
He noted that the federal government was committed to providing the enabling environment and a level playing field for all stakeholders in the auto industry.
Aganga said “We are ready to work with them to ensure that the policy is well implemented for the overall benefit of the Nigerian people and our economy”.
Speaking during event, the Managing Director, PAN Limited, Alhaji Ibrahim Boyi, said the full implementation of the new auto policy would revolutionise the growth and development of the nation’s industrial sector, adding that PAN had the capacity to assemble about 90,000 cars in Nigeria annually.
Boyi said: “In the past, this plant used to produce over 90,000 cars in one year, which was more than the national requirement for new vehicles in Nigeria. Local content was about 40 per cent from about 70 local component manufacturers. Some of them were here in Kaduna while the rest were as far as Enugu, Owerri and Lagos.
“I strongly believe that if the new auto policy is fully implemented, it will bring back the glory of the good old years of automotive assembly in Nigeria. With the new auto policy, I believe that our world class assembly plant, with all the facilities, skilled manpower and expertise, is still in a position to replicate the kind of feat PAN was used to in Nigeria.”