The Federal Government and the Volkswagen Group have commenced dialogue as the local manufacturing of vehicles by the automaker is set to begin.
The Federal Government, in September, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Volkswagen Group for the production of various types of vehicles in Nigeria.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, said at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, that the government was willing to learn and adopt models that had worked well in other parts of the world, and make them applicable to Nigeria.
Enelamah said Nigeria remained the choice destination for investment on the continent, adding that Volkswagen made a wise investment decision by coming to establish a vehicle production plant in the country.
He explained that the outcome of the open dialogue session would lead to the gradual transition from the importation of used cars to the manufacturing and distribution of new passenger vehicles in the country.
According to him, the government is committed to providing the right environment that will encourage an automobile hub in Nigeria.
Enelamah said, “This open dialogue session is a major step in our walk toward the development of a robust automotive industry that will contribute to the continuous economic development of the country. We believe in the strategic and catalytic role of the automotive industry in the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
“We remain committed to encouraging and partnering with relevant stakeholders, especially investors and friends of Nigeria, and we will meet our commitments and look forward to welcoming other Original Equipment Manufacturers interested in working with us.”
The Chairman and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group, Mr Thomas Schaefer, said the group had been able to demonstrate the seriousness of its intentions in sub–Saharan Africa.
The Director General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council, Mr Jelani Aliyu, said the country offered not only a significant domestic market, but also the opportunity of a gateway to the West African market.
He said NADDC was pleased by the progress that had been made in the engagement with Volkswagen, and excited to be partnering with a strong stakeholder with a full understanding of Nigeria’s potential.
He said, “These initiatives, when fully implemented, will have the multiple effects of creating thousands of jobs, generating unlimited skills acquisition opportunities for Nigerians in the automotive design and development sectors and create avenues for enhanced government’s revenues through diversification.
“Nigeria will move from a place where there are few highly expensive cars and millions of cheap very old ones, to a place where there are millions of modern new cars and even more of current high-end ones.”