The Federal Government, vehicle manufacturers, dealers and licensed Customs agents, among other stakeholders, have agreed to leave no stone unturned in their bid to ensure that the ongoing implementation of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan is sustained in line with global best practices.
The stakeholders agreed that the sustained implementation of the policy with periodic reviews to suit economic needs was in the interest of Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said that the extensive stakeholders’ consultations and collaboration had afforded the Federal Government the opportunity to access the level of progress so far recorded in the implementation of the policy with a view to addressing major challenges facing players in the sector.
The minister, who spoke after a meeting with members of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents in Abuja, yesterday, added that with the level of success so far recorded, 10 more auto plants had finalised plans to begin operations in Nigeria before the end of this year.
Aganga said, “Within the past one week, we have been holding consultative meetings with stakeholders in the automotive industry, including all the vehicle assemblers across the country and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents.
“This is to review the current level of the implementation of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan; to assess the level of progress made so far; to understand the challenges facing the players in the sector and what we need to do differently.”
He added, “Since the commencement of the implementation of the policy in July 2014, we have been meeting with all the stakeholders in the auto industry. This is to ensure that we carry everyone along so that we can fast-track the implementation of the policy and achieve the overall objectives of the policy in terms of job creation, industrialisation, local content development and reduction of pressure on our foreign exchange due to massive importation of vehicles into the country.
“Last week, we met with all the vehicle manufacturers/assemblers in the country. On Monday this week, we met with Clearing Agents. Also, we will be meeting with agents/dealers on used cars. This is because we believe that there is the need to consult with all the stakeholders in the auto industry as we go ahead with the implementation of the new auto policy.”
Aganga, who expressed satisfaction with the level of progress made so far with the implementation of the seven-month old auto policy, said the government and operators in the sector were focusing on local production of vehicle component parts in order to create more jobs and generate wealth for Nigerians.
He said, “From the stakeholders meetings we have held so far, I must say that we are particularly encouraged by the level of interest and enthusiasm being shown towards the new automotive policy by Nigerians and also by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
“The bottom line is that everyone is saying that so far, we have exceeded our expectations. If anyone had told us that about 22 OEMS would sign into the new auto policy in less than one year of its implementation, we might not have believed it. Currently, we have about four of them that are assembling vehicles in Nigeria. We are expecting another 10 OEMs to start assembling cars in the country before the end of this year.”
Aganga added, “Together with the major players in the sector, we have discussed and agreed on ways of accelerating the local production of automotive component parts on a product by product basis. Also, we have focused on how to establish an affordable vehicle financing scheme as quickly as possible.
“In this regard, we have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with WestBank, (the bank that finances one out of every three cars produced in South Africa) to finance the purchase of new cars for Nigerians at a very low interest rate. The bank will commence operation very soon. The whole idea is to make finance available for Nigerians who are buying new cars assembled in Nigeria, with an option to pay back within a period of four to five years.”