Mr Jelani Aliyu, Director General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council, NADDC, recently at the official inauguration of FUSO truck assembly plant by CFAO Motors in Nigeria spoke on the progress made so far on the local automobile sectors, Excerpts
How will the inauguration of this Assembly Plant by CFAO and FUSO Truck boost the investment drive of the Federal Government?
The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment have the responsibility of boosting industrial development in the country and our agency specifically has the mandate of developing the automotive sector in the country.
So for us, this is really an incredible milestone for the automotive sector in Nigeria to have CFAO and Fuso truck launch an Assembly Plant in the country with the capacity to assemble at least five trucks per day. This is an excellent development that would create jobs in Nigeria.
Do you think the government is creating the atmosphere for these companies to thrive in terms of policy support
I am also glad to say that today, the National Auto Policy has been passed into law. This would put us in the perfect position to protect local investment and local companies such as Fuso in terms of tax havens, incentives that would support their production which would also protect them against unfair importation of competitive vehicles.
You said that we are experiencing a new era in the automotive industry. Can you give an insight into what the stakeholders should expect in the industry
Not too long ago, we were in South Africa, we met with a number of companies including BMW, Ford that are already here, Toyota, Volkswagen, all these companies expressed huge interest in coming into Nigeria. And one of the things needed to be done was to make this policy a law. Now we have that. That’s a great incentive to them and other companies that want to come into Nigeria. When I talk about a new era, not just about automotive sector, Nigeria as a whole, this is a new Nigeria where I will like to say that we have now decided to face our challenges, to grab the bull by the horns and really do what is right.
Yes a lot of things that needed to be done in the past, couple of decades, have not been done. Now this administration and a lot of people here in the country are ready for a new Nigeria. Most importantly with respect to what we do, we are now in a position to give the right incentives and support for companies to come into the country and we would also do all that we can to support the youth of Nigeria to be part of this new Nigeria in terms of empowering them with the necessary skills to be part of this global movement of technology that would make life better
Is the NADDC working towards reducing the number of the under-utilised 53 approved local auto assemblers which many industry followers say are over bloated.
The most important thing is that we live in a democracy. So any individual company that meets some minimum requirements of being given a license would be given one. It is a free market, it is a competitive market. It is up to that company or individual to prove to the Nigerian market that they have a right product.
But as a democracy, we can’t turn people away and tell him ‘no, you have met the requirement but we won’t allow you to build vehicle. When the automobile was invented over a 100 years ago, even in the United States, there were tens and tens of companies that all came up to produce vehicles but over time, they went down and only the best survived. So to be healthy, we have to be a true democracy and work with all kinds of people and let the strong survive.
Where do you see all of these cascading into in the next five to 10 years
Now, there would be more reason, for companies to come into Nigeria and take advantage of the huge market. We have population of over 180 million people, over 50 per cent is under the age of 20, virgin territory.
So there would be things more and more in place to make it easy for companies to come in and we are also looking at how we have to plug into the three mega trends of automotive sector which are electrification, autonomy and right sharing.
We have to begin to look at how we will introduce and support electric car technology in Nigeria, in terms of being able to produce those vehicles here. A number of these companies that are interested in Nigeria also have electric vehicle programmes that they already have in place or they are looking at going into.
We will have to work closely with them to provide those vehicles in Nigeria and also we would have to work with them to transfer that technology so that our young Nigerians will be in the best position to understand this technology and be able to service it.
How will the law address the low buying capacity of Nigerians
We are also in very strong discussion with potential investors to set up an auto finance scheme so that Nigerians just like people do around the world, will just put little money down, get a brand new vehicle and either pay over time or just lease it for some time. This is crucial in helping the capacity.