Nissan creates new regional business arm for African continent

By Jarryd Neves

The African arm of Japanese carmaker Nissan has announced that it will reorganise its operations under a single region – Africa. This, says the manufacturer, is in line with its global ‘Nissan Next’ strategy.

This change in strategy will allow the company to focus on implementing the ‘Nissan Next’ principles on the African continent. This, says a statement from Nissan South Africa, will allow for an enhanced ‘focus on the customer’, further development of motor vehicle ‘manufacturing capabilities’ across Africa and even allow more growth for employees.

By enhancing internal operations, the Yokohama-based brand said the shift will allow for a ‘focus on the massive opportunity’ that the continent presents to the carmaker.

‘With the accelerating demand for vehicles and growth potential for market share combined with the AfCFTA agreement, this new structure will help the carmaker capitalise and deliver on its Nissan Next ambition’, says the South Africa arm of the Japanese car maker.

‘Carmakers are also hoping to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is expected to come into force early next year and will reduce tariffs and ease the flow of goods between its members states’, reports Reuters.

Mike Whitfield Photo: Nissan South Africa

Heading up the newly named Africa Regional Business Unit as Managing Director is Mike Whitfield. Whitfield has been with the company for nearly 40 years, serving as managing director for both Nissan Egypt and South Africa.

Appointed to Country Director is Kabelo┬áRabotho, who joined the company in 2016, following managerial positions at BMW and Toyota – both of which manufacture cars locally.

Reuters says that Nissan and competitors such as Volkswagen and Toyota have ‘been lobbying assembly and manufacturing while curbing imports of cheap used cars.’

Nissan recently announced that it is to start the final assembly of their vehicles in Ghana. This, says Bloomberg, is as a result of the tax breaks being offered to carmakers who decide to produce cars in the West African country. German carmaker Volkswagen has also recently taken advantage of these new incentives.

Bloomberg says that the Ghanian government has ‘promised to restrict the influx of second-hand cars, which account for 70% of vehicle imports’. Parliament even went so far as to ban the importation of cars older than 10 years.

Similar laws apply here in South Africa, where the importation of vehicles is entangled in layers of red tape, much to the chagrin of many motorists and car aficionados. According to the government, this is to ‘protect the local motor vehicle manufacturing industry.’

The Ghanian factory marks Nissan’s fourth factory in Africa, with plants based in Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.

Currently, Nissan South Africa builds the NP200 and NP300 Hardbody at their Rosslyn plant, with plans to produce the facelifted Navara in 2021 as well.

Locally, Nissan’s best selling passenger car is the Go hatchback, sold under their Datsun sub-brand.

The Hardbody NP300 is locally produced at the Rosslyn plant.

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