Poised to develop the largest single auto sales market in West Africa, Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state is willing to explore far-reaching partnership with the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) and the Africa Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM), in actualising the Benin Auto Park, sited in Benin City.
Governor Obaseki, who said this at the Edo Automotive Investment Forum, held in Benin City, noted that the state government was ready to provide necessary support structures to facilitate the setting up of global automotive players at the park, which is located opposite the Benin Industrial Park (BIP).
The Forum was attended by a delegation from AAAM, who had the mandate of the global office, to explore investment opportunities in Nigeria’s automotive industry.
The Forum was attended by Chief Executive Officers and other representatives of the global auto makers, including Graffiti SA, Nissan, Toyota, Deloitte, Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency (GIFA), Automotive Industry Development Center, DataDot Technology, Standard Bank of South Africa, International Finance Corporation and Afropulse Group.
Wooing the investors, Obaseki said Edo State is strategically located to become one of the largest automotive hubs in West Africa, maintaining that the state has a robust automotive sales and services sector, which guarantees impressive Return on Investment (RoI).
Noting that the Benin Auto Park will transform Nigeria’s automotive industry and help upgrade the used car market, he said the park will avail Nigerans of the opportunity to be able to buy new cars at affordable prices and be assured of top-of-the-range after-sales services.
On why the park has come to stay, he explained, “We want you to work with car dealership to create the largest single market location in Benin City, where people can buy cars. We want to properly organise the auto dealers in Benin City, transform the car components sector and attract investment to the state.”
Dr. Jelani Aliyu, the Director General of the NADDC, said that the council is excited with the proposal of the Edo State Government, and sees at least two scenarios for growth.
According to him, “with this support by the state government, I see the state becoming a hotbed for automobile sales. The first instance will see the state grow from supplying used cars to brand new cars. Also, we see the influx of automobile component makers, who are also here.”
On his part, Chief Executive Officer, Volkswagen South Africa, Thomas Schaefer, said that the delegation is keenly interested in the Nigerian market, its growth and deepening investments, especially with the increased drive for the Automotive policy.
According to him, “the automotive industry is quite critical in South Africa. It generates 350,000 jobs. The market boasts of 600,000 new cars. There is zero importation. We hope to replicate this in Nigeria and are interested in the Nigerian market.
“We are interested in Nigeria and Edo State and impressed with the proposal for the Benin Auto Park. We hope to deepen the partnership,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Deloitte Africa, Lwazi Bam, said that the delegation has the mandate of the global companies to explore investment opportunities in the country, noting that it was impressive for Governor Obaseki to actively push for diversification of the state’s economy.
According to him, “These individuals have strong belief in Africa and the continent’s progress. It is interesting to have Governor Godwin Obaseki talking about and pushing for projects to diversify the state’s economy.
“There has been a lot of talk about economic diversification in Africa. But we need people to lead the charge. Edo State Governor is leading the charge in Edo State.
“As we speak with the Federal Government on diversification and development of the automotive sector. We also need to speak with the state government, because it is in the states that the factories and industries will be sited.”