Hyundai, the South Korean Motor Company has opened its first factory in East Africa, a 10,000-a-year vehicle capacity assembly plant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Former Olympian, now business man, Haile Gebrselassie, has partnered with Hyundai to see that the vehicles are also exported to other countries in the East African region. According to Haile, “this plant is big enough for Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan.”
Although the market is dominated by second-hand vehicles, Hyundai expects its locally-assembled cars to compete favourably, especially considering the high cost of import duties and taxes on second-hand vehicles in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia produces around 10,000 commercial and other vehicles a year for its home market. It imported more than 40,000 cars in 2017, automobile traders say. Assemblers in the country include Chinese brands Geely, FAW and BYD, as well as Lifan.
Hyundai Chief Executive, Won Hee Lee, said the Korean firm was drawn by Ethiopia’s growth, one of Africa’s fastest for more than a decade. “We have good opportunities in Ethiopia. We believe the economic growth in Ethiopia will be faster than any other country in middle Africa,” he told reporters at the inauguration ceremony.