By Theodore Opara
SUCCOUR may soon come the way of stakeholders in the automotive industry in the country as the much awaited reviewed auto policy may soon get a legal backing.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo who gave the hint during, “meet the stakeholders parley anchored by BKG Exhibitions Limited” at the minister’s office in Abuja, said the Federal Government was working hard to put in place “a workable auto policy before the end of the year.”
Responding to issues on the myriad of challenges confronting the industry in Nigeria as raised by the team, the minister said: “I can assure you that we are not unaware of these problems and we have been doing our best to see how we can tackle these problems.
“I am sure you must be aware that at the moment we are working on the auto policy and we are hopeful that before the end of this year we will have an auto policy in place which will be presented to Federal Executive Council for approval.”
He further disclosed that the policy was part of discussions the Federal Government had with Original Equipment Manufacturers recently, assuring that the document would be out before the year runs out.
Continuing, the Minister revealed that already the AfriExim Bank had accepted to fund the consultancy for the preparation of the policy.
Assuring the BKG Exhibitions team led by the Managing Director, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Agwu which included other automotive industry key players, of the Ministry’s support, the Minister said: “The auto sector is a sector that our ministry is very interested in because we know that it portends a lot for the future of this country in terms of employment for our teeming youths.
“We will support its growth and development.”
He strongly assured that the government was working hard to adequately address challenges of the industry.
Earlier, the Managing Director of BKG Exhibitions Limited, organisers of the Abuja International Motor Fair which he said started since 1988 as well as the Lagos Motor Fair and Autoparts Africa Expo, while explaining the mission of his team commended the minister for granting them audience and giving a listening ear to the stakeholders in the industry.
According to him, the auto sector in Nigeria was very key to the nation’s development, stressing that it has the potentials of huge employment generation and revenue earning through duties and other direct and indirect taxes.
Mr. Agwu counseled that the rising inflation in the country can be addressed if the government gets it right by ensuring that the automotive sector is revived soon, as goods and services are often transported through the sector; pointing out that Nigeria’s auto sector was huge as it held the highest number of auto brand representatives in the whole of Africa.
He warned that countries like Ghana were positioning to overtake Nigeria as the hub of the automotive market in the continent owing to the Nigeria’s policy inconsistencies and lack of a well thought out law backed policy of growing the industry.
“I don’t think that there is any country in Africa that has the number of auto brand representatives that Nigeria has, not South Africa, not even Egypt. But still, these people are selling to us.
“Some of the brands go to South Africa to buy and sell to us but that is what Nigeria should be doing because first we have the internal market, and then we have the capacity to support the sector to sell to other African markets.
“But we are not doing that and it is going bad, really bad,” he said.
He further warned that if the government does not make haste to tinker with the policies to help grow the industry in Nigeria, automakers may go to Ghana and set up a plant to sell to Nigerians.
Agwu also warned that China was planning to start shipping used cars otherwise known as Tokunbo into Nigeria, adding that if that happens, it may not augur well for the country.
Meanwhile, the Abuja International Motor which will be having its 21st edition from November 15-20, 20121 at the International Conference Centre Annex, Abuja.