Nigeria automotive industry has got a boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Volkswagen Group to develop joint vision for an automotive hub in the country.
Strategy and Communications Adviser to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, Mr Bisi Daniels, said this in a statement in Abuja, Monday.
Daniels said Enelamah signed the MOU on behalf of Nigeria while the Head of the Sub-Saharan Region of Volkswagen, Thomas Schaefer, signed on behalf of Group.
According to him, Volkswagen undertakes to implement a phased approach in relation to the assemblage of vehicles.
He said this would start from assemblage of kits with the long-term view of establishing Nigeria as an automotive hub on the West Coast of Africa.
“This will include establishing a training academy in conjunction with the German Government which will train the initial employees.
“The academy will also provide broader technical training in automotive skills. It is also intended that a comprehensive Volkswagen vehicle and service network is developed in the country, subject to commercial viability,’’ he said.
Daniels said that the government promised to finalise the approval of the Nigerian Automotive Policy under consideration.
He said the finalisation would include the gradual transition from the importation of used cars to the manufacture and distribution of new passenger vehicles.
Daniels said the government was also committed to providing a conducive legislative environment that would encourage the manufacturing of motor vehicles in Nigeria.
“The MoU is a major step in our walk toward the development of a robust automotive industry to 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. We will meet our commitments and look forward to welcoming other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) interested in working with us.
“This is to increase local production, local procurement, and exports,’’ the minister said.
Contributing, Mr Jelani Aliyu, Director -General, National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), said: “Nigeria offers not only a significant domestic market, but also the opportunity of a gateway to the West African market.
“We are pleased by the progress we have made in our engagement with Volkswagen, and excited to be partnering with a strong stakeholder with a full understanding of the huge potential Nigeria represents.”
Schaefer said “This week, Volkswagen has been able to demonstrate with conviction that it is serious about its intentions in Sub–Saharan Africa.
“We are well placed to become a dominant player in Africa as the continent continues to stabilise and develop economically as the last frontier for the automotive industry.’’
Tracing the history of Volkswagen, Daniels said that the company had a fully-fledged manufacturing facility in South Africa, and assembles vehicles in Kenya, Algeria and Rwanda.
According to him, these functions were in conjunction with an Integrated Mobility Solution offering Community Car Sharing and shortly to be launched Ride Hailing.
He said that the national automotive policy had continued to attract investment from within and outside the country.