The car manufacturing industry in Africa is still nascent and it is difficult to measure how successful it would be in foreseeable future. Most of the cars and motorcycles driven in the 52 countries that make up the continent are imports largely from Japan. Toyota remains the biggest exporter to the continent. In 2017, Africa imported 420,000 new vehicles, 85 percent of them going to South Africa according to a survey by Frost & Sullivan, a US based market research firm.
A 2019 UNEP research showed that over 80 percent of the vehicle imports into Africa were second hand. Used cars in Kenya accounts for 96 percent of all car sales and 89 percent in Nigeria. 81 percent of all exported second hand vehicles from Japan end up in six East and Southern African nations. Kenya is the main market, followed by South Africa (which imports to reexport due to the ban), Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique in that order.
African countries that have banned second hand car import
Four countries in Africa have imposed total ban on second hand vehicles. They are: Egypt, South Africa, Sudan, and Morocco.
10 countries only allow used cars that are below 5 years old to be imported and impose high taxes against them. 16 countries allow cars that are at most 9 years old, while 24 countries don’t allow cars that are above 10 years old with no proper regulations in place. Kenya later on in 2019 changed regulations to raise the age limit to 5 years. (Source ~ UNEP)
Kenya now plans to ‘wind up’ import of second hand vehicles that are more than 3 years old by 2021, and in July 2019 introduced a new regulation that only allows cars that are not older than 5 years. This is in a bid to boost the local car assembling and manufacturing industries.
Even though higher taxes are imposed on second hand cars, affording a new one is more expensive in the country. Nigeria and Ghana are also working towards promoting local assemblies even though second hand car smuggling is rife in the two countries.
Despite the challenges, major world manufacturers are being incentivised to set up assembly lines. There are also a handful of manufacturers who have set up shop in some countries.
Vehicle and car manufacturers in Kenya
Vehicle assembling started in 1960s when Volkswagen produced the Beetle there. The company returned to set shop in Kenya recently and now fully produces the Volkswagen Polo Vivo. The car is produced at the Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM) facility in Thika, just a few kilometres outside Nairobi. KVM also assembles for the Hyundai Motor Corp.
Other major motor vehicle assemblers in Kenya are: DT Dobie, General Motors East Africa, Associated Motors, and the Associated Vehicle Manufacturers (AVA) based in Mombasa which is the largest and assembles for Toyota. AVA produces the popular Landcruiser.
Toyota dropped a bid in 2019 to acquire AVA due to ‘low sales’ of the Hino trucks and buses that it planned to produce, instead subcontracting the assembler to do the work. General Motors controls new vehicle sales in Kenya at 27 percent compared to Toyota’s 27 percent. AVA also assembles Mitsubishi, Scania, and Tata trucks.
Nyayo car project and why it failed
The Kenyan government in collaboration with the University of Nairobi initiated the first indigenous car manufacturing project in 1986. It was dubbed the Nyayo car. The five Pioneer Nyayo Cars prototypes were created and attained a speed of 120km/hr. The car however never entered commercial production due to what to lack of funds according to the government.
Nyayo Motor Corporation rebranded to Numercial Machining Complex and manufactures pats for varied industries. The five car prototypes can be viewed at the Kenya Railways Museum. Subsequent governments have considered reviving the project.
Mobius Motors car manufacturing in Kenya
Mobius was founded in 2011 by Joel Jackson to build a vehicle in Africa, for Africa. The first-generation Mobius II was launched in Kenya in 2015. It plans to launch the next generation Mobius II before the end of 2019. The company said that preorders for the Mobius II had exceeded expectations with 300 orders already made by the end of April 2019. The price for the new car ranges from KES 1.25 million (USD 12,500).
Vehicle and car manufacturers in Uganda
Uganda is the fourth largest importer of Japanese second hand cars, after Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania. It has fairly relaxed importation regulations making such vehicles to be cheaper than in neighbouring Kenya. The notable vehicle manufacturing and assembly plants in Uganda are:
Kiira Motors car manufacturing in Uganda
Kiira Motors Corporation is an ambitious project established in 2011. It is a collaboration between the government of Uganda (96 percent shares) and Makerere University (4 percent shares). The company traces its audacious history to 2007 when Makerere University students participated in developing a hybrid-electric car dubbed Vision 200, an initiative by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The experience would motivate the university to take implement a challenge by President Museveni and in 2011, it built its (and Africa’s) first electric vehicle, dubbed Kiira EV. This success led to establishment of Kiira Motors Corporation in 2014. It built the hybrid-electric Kiira EV Smack the same year, and the Kayoola Solar Bus in 2016. It followed up the production with the Kiira EVS.
The Uganda government in 2018 approved the setting up of a manufacturing plant in Jinja that would produce 5,000 vehicles annually. It was given a four-year timeline for the commercial phase to start. It plans to produce buses, sedans, SUVs, light and heavy-duty trucks and pickups.
Vehicle and car manufacturers in Nigeria
Vehicle assembly plants have existed in Nigeria since the 1960s. Volkswagen and Peugeot set up assembly plants in the country in 1972 and 1975 respectively with the former producing 29,500 units annually. In the same period, Daimler and the federal government established Anambra Auto Manufacturing Company also known (ANAMCO) assembly plant in Enugu with an annual capacity of 7,500 trucks and ambulances. Leyland Nigeria set shop in Ibadan assembling Range Rover, Land Rover, Albion, Mitsubishi Canter and The Landmaster.
The companies started failing due to influx of cheaper second hand cars.
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Nigeria
Nigeria joined the club of African countries that manufacture cars in 2013 after a government policy shift that encouraged local manufacturing through limiting importation of wholly assembled cars. Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) founded by Innocent Chukwuma unveiled the IVM Fox, IVM Umu, and IVM Uzo. The IVM has its manufacturing and assembly plant at Nnewi, Anambra State.
IVM says on its website that it “introduces automotive products from China, Japan and Germany. It’s product line includes heavy duty vehicles, middle and high level buses, special environment friendly vehicles. The company carries out optimization design and assembly according to African road condition so as produce suitable products at affordable prices.”
The company manufacures buses of carried capacities, double cabin cabs and SUVs.
Vehicle and car manufacturers in Ghana
Just like her peers, Ghana has a history of challenging environment for development of car Made in Ghana. Second hand vehicles rule the market. In 2018, the government shifted policy to give impetus to local assemblies and possible full manufacturing of cars.
It signed agreements with three global manufacturers, namely Nissan, Volkswagen and China’s Sinotruk to establish car assembly plants in the country. Nissan accounts for the largest car sales in Ghana at 32.8 percent. Mahindra is a major assembler and competitor. About 10,000 cars get sold in Ghana every year.
Kantanka Automobile car manufacturer Ghana
Kantanka Automobile Company was founded by Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka and produced its first vehicle in 2014. Its approach is assembling cars by order and can produce 120 cars per month. Just like Nigeria’s IVM, Kantanka supplies the police to prove the toughness of their vehicles and win the faith of a doubting market.
Their models are majorly saloon and SUV. They sold their first car in 2015 and have the following among their range of vehicles: Kantanka Nkunimdie SUV, Kantanka Omama Pickup, Otumfuo SUV, Kantanka Amoanimaa, Kantanka Mensah.
The cost of the vehicles is however somehow high with the least going for USD 20,000.