The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Volkswagen Group SA will soon begin to yield result as the production of various types of vehicles in Nigeria will commence anytime from now.
This development is coming following strategic session of open dialogue held between the Volkswagen delegation and the Nigerian Government Representative led by the Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah in Lagos on Thursday.
Speaking in his welcome address, the minister said the government will learn and adopt models that have worked well in other parts of the world, and make them applicable to Nigeria.
He said Nigeria remains the choice destination for investment on the continent, saying the global auto giants has made a wise investment decision by coming to establish an vehicle production plant in Nigeria.
The minister said the government will continue leveraging on the nation’s comparative advantages in the commitment towards making Nigeria competitive for local production and thereby increasing the contribution of manufacturing to economic growth.
According to him, the outcome of the open dialogue session will lead to the gradual transition from the importation of used cars to the manufacture and distribution of new passenger vehicles in Nigeria, adding the government was committed to providing a conducive environment that would encourage the manufacturing of motor vehicles in Nigeria.
“This open dialogue session is a major step in our walk toward the development of a robust automotive industry that will contribute to the continuous economic development of the country. We believe in the strategic and catalytic role of the automotive industry in the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
“We remain committed to encouraging and partnering with relevant stakeholders, especially investors and friends of Nigeria, and we will meet our commitments and look forward to welcoming other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) interested in working with us.
Making a presentation, the Director General of National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Mr. Jelani Aliyu (MFR), said Nigeria offers not only a significant domestic market, but also the opportunity of a gateway to the West African market.
He said NADDC was pleased by the progress that has been made in the engagement with Volkswagen, and excited to be partnering with a strong stakeholder with a full understanding of the huge potential Nigeria represents, pointing out NADDC will work closely with the global auto manufacturers, amongst others to ensure that wholly Nigerian produced vehicles quickly become a reality.
According to him, these initiatives when fully implemented, will have the multiple effects of creating thousands of jobs, generating unlimited skills acquisition opportunities for Nigerians in the automotive design and development sectors and create avenues for enhanced government’s revenues through diversification.
The director general said the council was already working with relevant partners and financial institutions that will provide a sustainable auto financing scheme for Nigerians, noting Nigeria was amongst the few countries in the world where a hundred percent down payment is required before a vehicle can be purchased.
“With these initiatives already being put in place, Nigeria will move from a place where there are few highly expensive cars and millions of cheap very old ones, but a place where there are millions of modern new cars and even more of current high-end ones”.
According to him, NADDC is also partnering with N-Power to train over three thousand auto technicians, and provide them with world class exposures, adding NADDC is building three test centers in Lagos, Enugu and Zaria to make sure that the cars and components produced, sold and used in the country are world standard.
The NADDC director general revealed that the council was already working on the opportunities by the coming of electric cars, pointing out it was the direction of the future and that Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.
“NADDC is working on building PPP Automotive Supplier Parks in Nnewi, Kaduna and Oshogbo that would go into automotive components production, and the agency is engaging NAACAM of South Africa, a consortium of OEM components manufacturers that supply the big global automotive companies, NAACAM will support as part of a body of many international technical partners”.
On his part, the Leader of the Volkswagen Delegation, Mr. Thomas Schaefer said, Volkswagen has been able to demonstrate with conviction that it is serious about its intentions in Sub–Saharan Africa.
Schaefer, who is the Chairman/Managing Director of Volkswagen Group, said the group is well placed to become a dominant player in Nigeria and Africa as the continent continues to stabilize and develop economically as the last frontier for the automotive industry.’