It is no news that the automobile industry in Nigeria is fighting for survival every day. It is battling to stay afloat amidst the influx of tokunbo vehicles, bad government policies, and indifferent or unconcerned citizens. It is important to bear in mind that the Nigerian automobile industry has not always been this way. There was a time it was ‘flowing with milk and honey’ to borrow biblical colloquialism.
Our local assembly plants were functioning and they were able to meet the local demand. The teeming population of motorists was happy to use our own cars and the government was a major patron for these cars.
What we have today is a far cry from what we had. We have Innoson motors doing well, but we need more of such in the country. We need more!
In this article, we would discuss 6 steps that can be taken to salvage the situation and revolutionize the automobile industry in Nigeria.
Innoson IVM G80 G Wagon 2019
1. Revive the once-thriving assembly plants and establish new ones
In the 1970s, Nigeria had about 6 local assembly plants that were producing cars to meet the demand of the population. These 6 plants included:
- Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited, Kaduna
- Volkswagen of Nigeria Limited, Lagos,
- Anambra Motor Manufacturing Limited, Enugu
- Steyr Nigeria Limited, Bauchi
- National Truck Manufacturers, Kano
- Leyland Nigeria Limited, Ibadan
In those days, the Peugeot plant was producing up to 100 cars a day. If we can get this part of the problem solved then we can move on to others.
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2. Massive and aggressive campaigns that promote Nigerian built cars image
A campaign should be launched on social media, television, and everywhere to promote Nigerian cars built by Nigerians, for Nigerians! Nigerians should be very well aware of the fact that we have cars produced in our country and that the growth of our economy depends on the manufacturing power we possess.
We can utilize celebrities and influencers to show Nigerians that our cars are durable, reliable and well adapted to Nigerian conditions better than any foreign cars. On our campuses, some of the best in engineering departments can be given automatic employment in some of the plants, to make Nigerians more aware of the fact that these firms are for them. Promotional campaigns prove effective in other developing countries and the automobile industry in Nigeria might be no exception!
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3. Adopt government policies that support the patronage of Nigerian made cars
The government is a major player in this game. Government policies would always influence the growth and development of any sector. First, there should be an increase in all car import duties, just as it was done in the 70s.
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We understand that Nigerians sometimes need to be ‘forced’ to do what is best for them. That was why I started with making provision to meet the demand of the population first. Once that provision is on ground, then the market must be made for the products. This step might be termed radical, but it is necessary to minimize the competition between local products and foreign products.
Next, the government would have to lead the way by massively purchasing from these local companies. All government official vehicles should be from them. All government armory and combat vehicles should also be purchased from the local manufacturers. Once the government begins to massively patronize these vehicles, them, it would be easier for the larger populace to follow suit.
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4. The automobile industry in Nigeria should be able to make cars for everybody
The local assembly plants would have to work with market information. The majority of the population at the grassroots level is not buoyant enough to buy very expensive cars and this is one of the reasons that they go for tokunbo vehicles. Therefore, in assembly, this must be put into consideration.
Vehicles should include those at the lower class, middle class, and the upper class. There are some very rich people who would not drive anything that is not a luxury car. Well, if they want luxury, then luxury should be given to them so that they would not have any reason to look outside the shores of the country. Furthermore, some people who can afford it might want custom-built cars. If that is the case, then provision for this should also be made.
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Increasing the presence of Nigerian cars would boost the sales of those vehicles
5. Open service centres nationwide
There is this thing in business about displaying your goods; the more people see it, the more likely they would want to purchase it. This is one of the things that would facilitate the acceptance of locally made vehicles. When people can easily have access to cars and repair services, then it becomes very easy to obtain them. People would also be motivated to go for these cars because they can easily walk into any centre in their neighborhood to have their questions answered or their cars fixed.
6. Create an enabling environment for investors
One of the beautiful things about capitalism is that when there is a good environment, motivated businessmen would emerge. As a matter of fact, with the right kind of atmosphere, so many more businesses would thrive.
People are discouraged if the road infrastructure is bad
Just by having stable power supply alone, we have opened the door of opportunities to brands that might want to begin assembly of electric vehicles in the country. This on its own would launch a new era of technology and advancement in the automobile industry in Nigeria.
This is particularly very obvious. Good roads would provide a wider market for the type of cars that can be found or made in the country. It would also ensure that our cars last longer.
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We know that more than half of the population cannot afford to buy a car at once. However, by forging partnerships among companies, the government can get some banks to allow potential buyers to pay more than once. This is a technique that has been adopted by Innoson Motors and it is highly commendable as it allows every citizen to have access to a car.
The journey to a vibrant automobile industry in Nigeria is way beyond 6 steps summarized in a few words. It actually takes more commitment, governmental will take enforcement and cooperation from every citizen to ensure that it comes to pass. Nigeria was once a hub for various manufacturing industries in Africa. These 6 steps are all in the right direction to getting us where we want to be!