Africa Day 2022 is particularly important for Nissan Africa this year, says Nissan Africa managing director Mike Whitfield, because of what the company has achieved in the last 12 months.
“Last June, we were incredibly proud to watch the first of the all-new Nissan Navaras rolling off the production line in Rosslyn, specially designed for Africa and made in Africa by Africans at a plant that had passed the most stringent tests against some of the best plants in the world to become the continental LCV manufacturing hub for Nissan.
“In March this year, we had the privilege of watching those same built of more Navaras rolling off the brand-new state-of the-art assembly plant built by Japan Motors in Tema, Ghana, the first country in Africa to be decolonised when it became independent in 1957.”
These have been the latest chapters in a very proud history of commitment to the continent which dates back to before 25 May 1963, when the Organisation of African Unity (the forerunner of today’s African Union) was founded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“The first Datsun pick-ups to be built in Africa, were assembled in at Motor Assemblies in Rosslyn in 1965, where the Nissan manufacturing plant stands today as the home of the Navara. Our vehicles have been legendary for all the right reasons for more than six decades in Africa.”
But Nissan was not just about Sub Saharan Africa, he said. Nissan Africa, created in December 2020, remains unique among OEMs on the continent with manufacturing bases in South Africa and Egypt and local assembly plants in Ghana & Nigeria. In fact, Nissan in Egypt is currently manufacturing the Nissan Sunny, which is the best-selling vehicle in the country, as well as the Nissan Sentra.
In Africa, Nissan has continued its global reputation of being a first mover. It the first mover in Ghana by signing a memorandum of understanding with the government in 2018 to support the development of the domestic automotive sector. In Nigeria, Nissan became the first major global auto manufacturer to assemble vehicles in 2013, following new legislation while in South Africa, the organisation is responsible for the initial introduction of electric vehicles to the market in 2013.
“The regional business unit was created to harness the opportunities that Africa has for us as automotive manufacturers and dealers, while giving us the chance to incubate and develop the incredible African talent we have in country,” Whitfield explained. Africa plays a huge role in Nissan’s overall global strategy, with the fastest growing population and the lowest global automotive ownership rate.
Together with the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers, Nissan is working hard to forge a coalition of willing African governments to develop a sustainable and indigenous African automotive sector, he said.
“These are exciting times for us, as we look to seize the opportunities that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in January presents. As Nissan, we look to do our very best to make the dream of the African Century a reality by creating a business unit that truly is focussed on a bigger, better Africa,” Whitfield said.