The first set of locally assembled Nissan vehicles were rolled out in early May through the local automotive giant, Stallion Motors. The car company released its first Nissan-branded vehicle from its Lagos assembly plant.
“Following the automotive policy in Nigeria, we decided that we need to be the first movers into the Nigerian market. So with our mother company in Japan, we made a huge effort to become the first movers,” Jimmy Dando, general manager of sub-Saharan Africa Nissan, told CNBC Africa.
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The government’s automotive policy aims to encourage car makers to assemble their vehicles in Nigeria. The policy was also set to encourage the manufacturing sector in the country and create jobs.
“I think it’s important to mention that for some time now, Nissan has been interested in creating an assembly plant in Nigeria,” he said.
Nissan is targeting significant growth in Africa as part of its strategy to achieve its Power 88 goals, a commitment to reach eight per cent profitability by the end of the 2016 fiscal year.
“In Africa, we see a good opportunity for Nissan’s growth plans and in a country like Nigeria, where you have a population of 170 million people and the largest GDP in Africa, we see an opportunity for growth,” he added.
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Vehicle assembly plants are expected to spring up across the country and reduce the number of imported cars significantly. The government seems to be achieving this as car imports to the country dropped sharply from 11,563 in January to 7,400 units in February showing a 38 per cent decline.
“It’s very important to bring a manufacturing sector to Nigeria. This starts to develop an industrialisation in [a country] which desperately needs it so we wanted to be part of that [transformation].”
“The product that we are building in Nigeria will be of equal price to the product that is currently fully built up from Japan,” he concluded.