THE Nigeria automotive industry has the potential for the diversification of the economy with value-driven supply chain and scalable backward integration for the economy. Automotive companies are looking towards the country not only for its burgeoning consumer market but also as an efficient supplier base. Rooted in advanced economies, the auto industry is a major driver for job creation. In the United States, the auto industry supports nearly eight million American jobs, pays $500 billion in annual compensation, and generating $70 billion in personal tax revenue. The auto industry sits atop the industries with the top 10 highest job multipliers in the States. It has also continued to remain a significant anchor of high-value innovation, growth, and inclusive prosperity for global economies.
Following the auto policy, stakeholders have revitalized old plants and set up new facilities with innovative technologies in the production process of cars that are being introduced to the local market. This has resulted in the creation of jobs. However, a developing trend in the industry following the unsigned auto policy bill and the continued taste for foreign and imported cars compounded by the influx of used cars through land borders is that industry experts and investors in the industry are facing nightmarish moments.
The daunting challenges this will pose to the development of the industry need not to be overemphasised. The rather disturbing development has been considered as an Achilles heel to the trajectory of the industry in recent years. Many major stakeholders have called for the government’s reevaluation of its decision to continue on the path of making Nigeria a consuming nation rather than a producing economy with viable employment opportunities for her teeming working population.
Re-echoing this call and speaking on the need for the government to provide a veritable platform for the growth of the automobile industry, the Managing Director and CEO of Kia Motors in Nigeria, Mr Jack Hathiramani, has asked for the government’s support for the sustainable growth of the industry. He said: “With the establishment of many automobile assembly plants, heavily funded by private establishments, employment avenues are expanding in the fields of automotive technology and distribution of automobiles in the country.
“Increase in the production of commercial vehicles/passengers’ cars, automobile sector can expect to have a wide range of opportunities both for wage paid and self-employment ventures in the coming years. In fact, the automobile industry is arguably positioned as the barometer of the economic and social transformation taking place in the country. It is one of the major sources of employment and is likely to generate employment for thousands of new hands directly and indirectly, in the near future.”
Today, as a key contributor to the manufacturing sector of the economy, the auto industry together with other manufacturing companies’ annual contribution is 9.20 per cent to the country’s GDP. Jacky stressed that the automobile companies have opened up numerous opportunities for persons with an automobile engineering, mechanical engineering and technical diplomas in this area, both at the middle level and low-level. And for a country with an upsurge in the numbers of the unemployed working population, the auto industry has continued to help human capacity development and job creation.
Jacky added that “the automobile industry across the globe has always played a major role in strengthening the global economy by contributing immensely to the growth of the GDP and the creation of employment to teeming youths. Nigeria, as a country, despite being a huge market in Africa with a booming population of over 170 million people, is yet to fully actualize the potentials of the automobile industry owing to the non-patronage of government agencies, the thirst of government officials for imported new cars and the overwhelming influx of imported used cars turning the country into a dumping ground and one of the leading collectors of junk aged cars. We’re sitting on a gold mine that can fill the void of unemployment and diversified economy.
“When new cars are produced in Nigeria, the local production will grow and have a direct impact on the GDP. This will, in turn, provide large-scale employment, increase the internally generated revenue for the government and help in diversifying the economy amongst other gains.
The automobile industry has remained one of the highest contributors to the global economy and serves as a fulcrum for the industrialization of countries in the world over.”
Government’s support by way of patronage and sustainable policy framework will usher in a systemic and holistic structural development of the automobile industry in Nigeria”
As a developing economy, for instance, the Indian government, recognizing the potentials of the auto industry set up an Automotive Mission Plan for 2006 – 2016.
The aim of the plan amongst others is to take the industry output to 145 billion US dollars by 2016, which is expected to account for at least 10 per cent of the GDP and also generate extra job opportunities for 25 million people.
Taking a cue from this, Jacky stated that “the contribution of the auto industry, if well managed, has the potentials of being one of the highest employers of labour in the country”.
On how well Kia is positioned for contributing to the industrialization of the economy, Jacky pointed out the company’s “strategic business propositions have over the years distinguished itself in the industry on providing exceptional customer service hinged on tailored business operations to meet the ever-increasing demands of customers. The unflinching resolve to provide outstanding offerings and exceptional customer-focused after-sales services have always reinforced customers’ confidence in the Kia brand”.