By Favour Nnabugwu
The country’s dream of assembling and patronising its own cars is still alive, says National Automotive Council, NAC.
NAC Director-General, Mr. Aminu Jalal, said the country must not give up on the pursuit of its automotive agenda.
To ensure that the dream is kept alive, Jalal said the Council has set aside the sum of N3.5billion as seed money for a fund to be accessed at single digit interest rate to those who purchase locally assembled vehicles, all in the effort to encourage Nigerians to buy made-in-Nigeria vehicles.
He said the implication of killing the dream of Nigerian made car means that the country will continue to fund jobs projects abroad to the tune of over $3.5billion annually at the expense of its teeming masses of unemployed and the existing huge investment in manufacturing and assembly.
“The Nigerian market, estimated at N600 billion annually is sufficient to sustain a local automotive industry if the investment environment is right. The automotive technology is over a hundred years old and no one needs to reinvent the wheel”
He lamented that about 50,000 new and 150,000 used vehicles were imported into Nigeria yearly.
Nigerians spend an average of N400 billion on importing passengers’ cars and by the time you add trucks and other vehicles, the amount Nigerians spend on imported vehicles will be running to N600billion annually, adding that the money can be plowed into the country’s automotive industry.
“Apart from the existing Assembly plants with a combined capacity of nearly 100,000 vehicles per annum, there exist numerous automotive body building facilities with impressive capacities”.
NAC he said remains relevant because the industry is strategic and its activities must be integrated to be meaningful. It is essential that an agency is in place to plan, coordinate and provide common infrastructure just as he adviced government on appropriate policy intervention. This is the practice in all countries that similarly aspires.
“Nigerians have mastered the act of vehicle assembly and even the production of a long list of automotive components and parts including all automotive glass, brake pads, all light and reinforced plastic parts, Seats, exhausts systems, fuel, air and oil Filters, some pressed parts, wire harnesses, tyres, batteries, cables, trim etc”.
An entirely green plant, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Limited, IVM, supported by NAC in Nnewi, is recorded to have produced over 2,000 pickups vans buses in only three (3) years of its existence. The IVMs are what you would call a Nigerian brand as they are named after the Chairman and Chief executive –INNOSON. IVMs have very high local content and the company continues to pursue this program vigorously with the support of NAC. The Council has extended support to over 20 component manufacturers including Dunlop which received over N1.4 billion to establish its Radial Steel Truck tyres, although the lowering of import duty on truck tyres in 2005 crippled the tyre industry.
Several motorcycle plants and indeed the first Motorcycle Tyre manufacturing plant in Nigeria have received NAC support. The Nigerian Automotive Manufacturers Association, NAMA, the Automotive Local Content Manufacturers Association, ALCMAN, the auto sector of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, can all attest to this.