By Favour Nnabugwu

A National Automotive Policy that will give priority to the patronage of vehicles assembled in Nigeria will soon be sent to the Federal Executive Council for approval.

The Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, stated this weekend at a meeting with officials of General Motors led by the Managing Director, GM South Africa and President of GM Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Edgar Lourencon in Abuja.

He noted that the policy, when fully implemented, would fast-track the growth and development of the nation’s automotive industry, create jobs and generate wealth for the country.

“We are working on a new automotive policy that will prioritise the patronage of vehicles assembled in Nigeria. The policy is part of the Integrated Mass Transit Policy of President Goodluck Jonathan, which is aimed at providing efficient and affordable mass transit for Nigerians”.

”We want to leverage the policy to develop our local automotive industry by ensuring that we patronise vehicles that are assembled here in Nigeria. By so doing, we will be able to boost the productivity of our vehicle assembling plants, create jobs, generate wealth and transform our economy,” Aganga stated

Minister of Trade & Investment, Olusegun Aganga

He further explained that the Ministry had embarked on an Investment Climate Reform programme as part of efforts aimed at making Nigeria the preferred hub for investors across the world.

He said, “The meeting I held today with officials of General Motors dwelt on their desire to come and set up an automotive plant in West Africa. The choice is whether the plant will come to Nigeria or go to Ghana.

“But we have held very fruitful discussions with them that Nigeria is the best place for them to establish the plant given our vast raw materials and a huge market, which is the largest in Africa, and most importantly, the fact that our country has the highest returns on investment.

He said, “We have the potential of becoming one of the 20 leading economies in the world by 2020. During a recent meeting of international investors, a survey was conducted where they were asked which country had the potential of having the highest returns on investment in Africa and the investors said Nigeria.

”Already, we have begun the process of making it possible for investors to obtain their visas when they are coming into the country. Also, we are setting up trade and investment desks in our major missions abroad. We have commenced an Investment Climate Reform programme to improve the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.”

He added, “We are in the process of establishing two committees in order to make this happen. The first Committee is the Doing Business Committee and the second one is  the After – Care Committee. The Doing Business and Competitiveness Committee will focus on the reports issued and the rankings of Nigeria in this subject. This is made up inter-ministerial government Committee.

They will work with a technical team, which is already working with the Department For International Development, UK and the World Bank. “Their goal is to ensure that we improve our ranking and achievement.”

The Competitiveness Council will be led and funded by the private sector. This is because if you look at the competitiveness report, there are things that the government will do and there are things that the private sector will do. This is the structure that we have put in place to monitor and improve on our doing business ranking.

“The Investor- After-Care Committee will address the key issues and day to day problems that investors have because we realized that if they have good experience, they will make more money, expand their operations and employ more people. We are actually looking at the overall business environment and how to make it better.”

Speaking during the meeting, the Managing Director, GM South Africa and President of GM Sub-Sahara Africa, Mr. Edgar Lourencon  Managing Director, expressed satisfaction with the Federal Government’s policy of prioritising the patronage  of made in Nigeria vehicles, adding that it would help the company to take its final investment decision on where to establish its assembling plant.

He said, “It is absolutely correct that Nigeria has the highest return on investment in Africa. As part of our operations, we have partnership with Isuzu. We want to expand our operations in bus and trucks assembling particularly in West Africa.”

The meeting with the Minister of Trade and Investment provided us with a great opportunity to discuss  the policy direction of the Nigerian government  in terms of  that will supporting  our investment.

“I am taking back from the meeting, a very positive feedback and feeling about Nigeria especially the fact that the government is absolutely committed to supporting the growth and development of the economy in general and the automotive industry in particular. This is very important for us in terms of making our investment decision in the future.”

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