Car manufacturers target Nigeria, others as assembly hubs » Financial Watch

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Car manufacturers target Nigeria, others as assembly hubs – The African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) have identified Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana as potential manufacturing hubs and helped draft legislation setting up standards and incentives.

Africa’s population and household incomes are rising rapidly. But its 1 billion inhabitants account for only 1 percent of the world’s new passenger car sales, industry data shows. South Africans bought over 85 percent of those vehicles.

Details of governments’ plans provided to Reuters demonstrate that African nations are keen to secure a spot as a beachhead for the industry.

Nigeria and Ghana are preparing to offer automakers tax holidays of up to 10 years and duty-free imports of parts and components used in local assembly. Nigeria also plans to double the levy on new, fully-built imported vehicles to 70 percent to boost demand for locally produced cars, though the policy’s approval has been delayed.

In Kenya, automakers will pay no import or excise duties and get a 50-percent corporate tax break.

For African nations facing massive demographic pressures, such concessions make sense if they create jobs, said Jelani Aliyu, of Nigeria’s National Automotive Design and Development Council.

“The multiplying effects are exponential,” said Aliyu, who foresees supporting industries developing around the plants.

Legislative and fiscal frameworks are being finalised, but companies are already investing millions of dollars in new plants.

VW and Nissan have set up operations in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana or have pledged to do so. Honda and Peugeot have launched assembly plants in Nigeria, and Peugeot has done the same in Kenya.

Carmakers sorely need the business. Their South African divisions, which typically direct operations elsewhere on the continent, face stagnating domestic sales and scant growth prospects in their main export market, Europe. A chaotic Brexit or U.S. tariff hikes could further dampen sales.

Toyota South Africa’s chief executive Andrew Kirby said the strategy is: “Focus on Africa because Africa is going to grow significantly.”

A pivot to Africa could also help insulate automakers from the immediate effects of the electric vehicle revolution. The continent is ill-placed to join it at the moment due to the higher prices of EVs and unreliable power grids.

Just 66 electric cars were sold last year in South Africa – the continent’s most developed economy.

“Africa will most likely remain as the last bastion of internal combustion engines,” Parker said.

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