Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has encouraged investors in the automobile industry to bring in investments to the country as the nation seeks to diversify away from oil, Footprint to Africa reports.
The president noted that, in order to improve the lives of Nigerians, investments were needed in all sectors of the economy.
He made the remarks in a meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, with the Executive Members of the Association of African Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM), led by the chairman, Mr Jeff Nemeth. Other members of the delegation included Mike Whitfield, managing director of Nissan South Africa and vice chairperson of AAAM; Ford executives; Dave Coffey, president of the National Association of Automotive Components and Allied Manufacturers; Alec Erwin, former South African minister of trade and industry, and currently a consultant to the AAAM, and Cyril Zhungu, CEO of WesBank, South Africa’s largest automotive financing firm.
President Buhari explained that, to diversify the economy, his government must avoid mistakes made in the past by both government and manufacturers.
He said that Nigeria, as a country, recognised her problems early enough, but remained potential for too long and so did not achieve much results.
“We are ready to get investment from all quarters, so that we can improve the lives of our people,” Buhari told the association.
The President lamented that Nigeria failed to develop on automobile initiatives started in Bauchi, Kaduna and Ibadan, and depended too much on oil as the mainstay of her economy.
“We are making efforts to start our steel industry all over again. I see vast opportunities for both the country and those who invest here,” the President told the automotive manufacturers.
In his remarks earlier, Nemeth said the Association comprised potential investors who were ready to unlock investment potentials on the African continent.
“We are ready to offer strategic partnership with Nigeria. We want to promote investor-friendly regulatory frameworks and sustainable manufacturing.
“We will equally promote infrastructure development, job creation, and skills transfer,” he said.
The AAAM chairman sought the support of the Presidency in the realisation of the vision and mission of the association.
He said that their focus would be to drive investment not only in car manufacturing industry, but also in infrastructure and skill development to boost employment opportunities in Nigeria.
He expressed optimism that their discussions with the Nigerian government would lead to the emergence of a vibrant automotive industry in the country,” he said.
“So, our focus is on driving investments not only in the industry but also in infrastructure and durable goods as well as skills development and the promotion of investors’ friendly regulatory framework that provides stability and sustainability in industrial development such as automobile.”
Nemeth stated that his association had impacted positively on the economies of some African countries.
He particularly cited the development of the automobile industry in South Africa, where the sector had so far provided employment opportunities to over 700,000 people.
“We have seen the positive effects of the automotive manufacturing on different countries, on their economies and on their unemployment.
“As a point of example, another African country that has automobile industry is South Africa and the overall employment levels generated by the industry is about 700,000 including the whole value-chain in the industry,’’ he said.