By William Asiedu
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Global automobile giants, Nissan, has concretised its resolve to support Ghana’s automotive development agenda with the formal launch of a partnership with Japan Motors Trading Company Ltd. (JMTC), to assemble Nissan vehicles in Ghana.
According to the Managing Director of Nissan South Africa, Mr Shinkichi Izumi, assembling is expected to begin in the first half of next year, and Nissan’s sales and services agreement with its second local partner, Auto Parts Limited remains unchanged.
The first model to be assembled at the new facility, which is situated on the Cocoa Processing Road, Tema, will be the all-new Nissan Navara pick-up, unveiled by Nissan earlier this month.
The Nissan top official explained that the partnership with Japan Motors, which was launched in Accra on Wednesday, November 18, will, among other things, help to accelerate Ghana’s industrialisation drive.
In an interview with the Daily Heritage, the Managing Director said the appointment of Nissan’s long-time partner, Japan Motors Trading Co. as its local partner in the vehicle assembly facility is in recognition of the latter’s proven track record in efficient service delivery and dependability.
The appointment is a result of the 2018 memorandum of understanding between Nissan and the government of Ghana to lay the foundation for a sustainable automotive manufacturing industry in the country.
The operations will begin with the assembling of semi knocked down vehicles and progress over the years to the assembling of completely knocked down kits.
Nissan, Mr Izumi said, has a long heritage within the pick-up segment and the new model will be produced to specifications good for the African /Ghanaian market.
“Ghana government’s policy on automotive development is a critical path to industrialisation, so we decided to get involved. The policy, we believe, will accelerate industrialisation, value chain creation and market liberation,” Mr Izumi noted.
He said currently, Ghana imports between 90,000 and 100,000 vehicles; 10, 000 of which are brand new, and Nissan hopes to leverage on the protocols of the government’s automotive policy to remain the market leader.
“Nissan has a strong legacy in pick-ups, which is our strongest asset in our line-up and assembling in Ghana will improve affordability and access,” he pointed out.
The focus now, he said, is on pick-ups and as the manufacturing journey progresses the company will concentrate on quality assurance and see how the market evolves and then explore further opportunities in Ghana.
The continued development of Nissan’s African manufacturing base is a key part of the company’s regional midterm strategy under the Nissan NEXT global transformation plan. Once operational, the Ghana facility will add to Nissan’s existing African production capacity at plants in South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria.
The Managing Director stated that the announcement of the partnership demonstrates Nissan’s ongoing commitment to investing in Ghana, as well as the expansion of the country’s automotive sector through the Ghana Automotive Development Policy.
“Ghana presents a great opportunity for investment, partnership and growth for Nissan,” said Mr. Izumi. “Establishing a long-term automotive industrial development policy will provide investors with further confidence, boost the local economy and create jobs. We look forward to the continued partnership as Japan Motors officially begins assembling Nissan vehicles in Ghana.”
Construction of the new facility is already underway, as are the recruitment and appointment of new employees, skills development and technical training to share and apply Nissan’s global quality production standards.
“Japan Motors sees great potential in Ghana,” said Salem Kalmoni, Managing Director of Japan Motors. “We’re thrilled to make this significant investment and to be in a partnership that will unlock job opportunities and contribute to the economic development of Ghana. With world-class training, the local assembly plant will deliver an excellent product to meet our customers’ needs.”
According to Mr. Kalmoni, Ghana had some automobile manufacturing companies in the 1960s and 70s but for various reasons, they all folded up. “I hope the new partnership we have with Nissan will last much longer because the longer it lasts, the more component manufacturing comes in and the more we will get the full benefits of the industry,” he added.
He said when it comes to the local automobile industry, Japan Motors is “on the ground” and the company is set to begin operations with the provision of the physical location for the assembling works, investment in equipment and personnel, pointing out that expatriate staff will come in periodically to offer training to the local staff.
“We aim to cut cost, keep our operations clean environmentally, and create jobs,” he said, and stressed that there are many benefits down the line as the plant will serve as a catalyst for component manufacturing, such as the production of tyres, windscreens etc., “and that will never reduce jobs as some people fear”.
In November, 2018, Nissan added to its track record of investing in Africa, by entering into an agreement with the government of Ghana to establish an automotive manufacturing industry in the country. The company also sought to make Ghana its hub for sales and marketing in West Africa.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, and Mr. Mike Whitfield, the Managing Director of Nissan Group of Africa, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cement the Ghana-Nissan relationship, which seeks to unlock economic potential, promote development of the automotive sector and promote investor-friendly regulatory frameworks that encourage sustainable car manufacturing in Ghana.