Er­win op­ti­mistic about automotive plan

Daily Dispatch - - Business - By MARK SMYTH

FOR­MER cab­i­net min­is­ter Alec Er­win says his work to get Nige­ria’s automotive in­dus­try off the ground is no threat to auto com­pa­nies in SA‚ but rather that the sec­tors in SA and Nige­ria will “com­ple­ment each other”.

The “whole in­ten­tion” was to “in­crease op­por­tu­ni­ties for the SA auto in­dus­try”‚ said Er­win‚ who is chair­man of Ubu In­vest­ment Hold­ings.

But opin­ion on the is­sue is split‚ with David Pow­els‚ for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of VW South Africa‚ warn­ing the SA’s in­dus­try could lose out to Nige­ria with­out care­fully im­ple­mented sup­port pol­icy.

As trade and in­dus­try min­is­ter‚ Er­win con­trib­uted to the suc­cess of the Mo­tor In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (MIDP), which helped mod­ernise SA’s mo­tor in­dus­try.

He was one of a num­ber of South Africans sought out by Nige­ria to pro­vide ad­vice on its automotive pro­gramme‚ mod­elled on the MIDP.

In the 1980s Nige­ria was as­sem­bling more than 250 000 ve­hi­cles a year‚ with firms such as Peu­geot‚ Volk­swa­gen and Mercedes-Benz Trucks hav­ing oper­a­tions there. Then Nige­ria cut im­port tar­iffs‚ mak­ing lo­cal assem­bly un­nec­es­sary‚ so man­u­fac­tur­ing plants were na­tion­alised and sold.

Nige­ria is now look­ing to re­vive the in­dus­try.

“We then came to the SA gov­ern­ment and said we should work closely with the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment‚” said Er­win. He re­ferred to Nige­ria’s plans to move from assem­bly to full man­u­fac­tur­ing. Semi-knock­down for too long was “silly” as it got too ex­pen­sive. “We want to do com­plete knock­down”.

It is that long-term full man­u­fac­tur­ing plan that has many con­cerned.

“Will we co­op­er­ate as a com­mon cus­toms union,” asked Gavin Maile‚ automotive leader at KPMG Africa.

But Er­win said he is con­fi­dent Nige­ria and other African coun­tries will pro­duce some mod­els and SA oth­ers.

There this.

Nissan SA Nige­ria both NP300 bakkie.

SA ex­ports kits to Nige­ria but the two will likely be­come com­peti­tors once Nige­ria pro­duces its own com­po­nents. — BDLive

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ALEC ER­WIN

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