By Meshack Idehen
Since coming on board as the Director General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council, (NADDC) about a year ago, analysts and stakeholders within and outside the automotive industry said there has been a marked and positive difference in Nigeria’s quest to become the hub for auto design and development in Africa and beyond.
This positive development is coming, even as other observers and industry experts said the Nigerian government is now committed to diversifying its economy that had been largely dependent on gas and oil-dependent, with policies now matching developmental actions.
In the past, Nigeria, they said, did not have an expert to drive its automotive design and development policies, but was always keen to tap into the unlimited potential that the automobile manufacturing industry represents, particularly with the hope that keying into these opportunities will help create thousands of jobs and draw large-scale investment from global car-makers around the world.
However, considering the pace with which the industry has been growing since the current leadership of NADDC led by Mr. Jelani Aliyu came in place, industry watchers said there were now hopes that the desires of the Federal Government for the automotive industry are now being realized.
United Kingdom based African Development Expert, Dr Mike Uyi, said the NADDC under Jelani Aliyu has been effectively utilizing the policy mandate of government, and has through that boosted local car production, reduced vehicle imports, and created industry wide skill acquisition opportunities for talented Nigerians.
“NADDC’s work under the current leadership has been guided by an automotive policy of the government that the current director general has been utilizing to draw global multi-billion dollars auto investments into Nigeria, like that with Nissan that was recently concluded”, he said.
It would be recalled that only few weeks ago, and as part of its continuous bid to make Nigeria the automotive design and development epicenter of Africa, Jelani Aliyu’s NADDC concluded arrangements to partner with global auto manufacturers, Nissan Automobiles International.
That initiative came even as NADDC fortified its efforts at creating more skills and job opportunities for Nigerians through its auto test centers located in various parts of the county.
Nissans Executive Vice President for Africa, Middle East and India, Mr. Peyman Kargar, at the event, said Nissan, through its partner, Stallion Motors has pledged its commitment to make more significant investments running into billions of dollars in Nigeria’s automotive sector.
According to him, “Nissan vehicles assembly plant which already covers over 380 hectares in Lagos, and produces four vehicles brands including patrol, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), Almeria Sedan Urban Mini buses and Pick-up trucks will grow its investments and footprints in Nigeria”.
The global auto manufacturers also reiterated that it was committed to working even closer with NADDC due to the current leadership, in order to develop the automotive industry in Nigeria due to their belief in the work that the NADDC is doing.
According to experts, it is noteworthy that while the Nissan’s initiative is ongoing, that NADDC is also currently and very actively working with other global automobile manufacturers, including BMW, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen towards setting up operations to produce brand new ones right here in Nigeria, thereby employing thousands of Nigerians in the process.
Commending the NADDC for its foresighted plans for Nigerians in the automotive industry, Automobile Engineer, Mr. Daniel Yahaya said NADDC has structured the National Automotive Industrial Development Plan in full support of local automotive manufacturing, and is continuously working with relevant stakeholders to provide a vehicle financing scheme so Nigerians won’t have to put down 100% cash when buying new cars.
With these initiatives already being put in place, he said Nigeria will move from a place where there are few highly expensive cars and millions of cheap very old ones, but a place where there are millions of modern new cars and even more of current high end ones.
Giving insights into how the country will benefit from these initiatives recently, the Director General had disclosed that NADDC is in process of building three test centers in Lagos, Enugu and Zaria to make sure that the cars and components produced, sold and used in the country are world standard.
According to him, “NADDC is working on building Public Private Partnership (PPP) Automotive supplier Parks in Nnewi, Kaduna and Oshogbo that would go into automotive components production, and the agency is engaging a consortium of original components manufacturers that supply the big global automotive companies, which will support as part of a body of many international technical partners.
It was gathered that through the support and initiatives of the council, that strong support are going the way of local automotive producers, while other manufacturers such as Honda, Ford, Fuso and Yutong are already producing vehicles in Nigeria.
“Innoson is producing its own vehicles in Nnewi. Peugeot in Kaduna has introduced new models that it produces. Nigeria would soon start production of advanced vehicles used in developed countries”, Yahaya said, while praising the director and NADDC for bringing life into the industry.
On his part while insisting that Nigerians will soon stop driving old and dilapidated vehicles due to the proactive measures of the NADDC, United States of America based industry expert, Mr. Dominic Okoji, said every Nigeria will soon be able to afford and use a brand new vehicle that is safe, effective and efficient if NADDC will continue to work with very strong and relevant partners.
Pointing out there less than 10 operational assembly plants in Nigeria before now, Okoji said since approving the policy, and the coming of the current NADDC’s leadership, that over 30 global car-makers, including Toyota and Honda, have obtained licenses to begin car assembly in Nigeria.
To facilitate the place of Nigerians in gaining world class skills and opportunities in the automotive sector, the NADDC has also moved on to partner with the N-Power Programme of the government in order to identify, train and produce world class auto technicians that will service the nation’s auto industry.
The initiatives from NADDC, it was gathered, will create limitless opportunities for the industry in Nigeria, particularly jobs for the nations teeming youths, while credible auto workshops around the country that will partner with the council in training of the mechanics and technicians have already been identified. The Nigerian technicians training will be based on both local and global transport needs.
Chief Executive of Red Code Limited, an auto development company, Mr. Ayoade Olaide, said since Jelani Aliyu came on board as director general of NADDC, that there has been a marked difference in Nigeria’s quest to become the hub for auto design and development in the continent.
He said the NADDC director general and his team will help create thousands of jobs and draw large-scale investment from global car-makers. Nigeria’s government and citizens can tap into these potential.
Not fazed by these staggering paces of development in the industry, the NADDC director general has consistently maintained that a Nigerian vehicle that is conceptualized designed and developed by Nigerians for Nigerians in Nigeria can make the country Africa’s auto hub.
“A Nigerian vehicle designed specifically for the Nigerian populace. A vehicle in tune with the history, culture, environment and economic structure of the people, and I think we are heading there,” Aliyu added.
Making reference to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report which show that locally assembled cars which only accounted for 15% of car sales in 2014 could rise to 70% by 2050 depending on economic growth, Industry Watcher, Mr. Theophilus Ikedili, said Jelani Aliyu’s appointment is timely as an excellent move that will make Nigeria occupy its proper place as far as global automotive industry was concerned.
Ibrahim explained for a man that was immediately noticed by an American multinational corporation that designs and markets vehicles after graduation, and beginning his career as a design staff at General Motors, that even critics agree that Jelani Aliyu is considered by many as the super star of the General Motors renaissance, saying as the head of the NADDC, that Aliyu, will excellently implement new development policies for Nigeria’s automobile industry.