Nigeria is the number one car buyer in Africa, with an average of seventy thousand vehicles sold here annually. There is one vehicle for every twelve citizens in Nigeria, but true ownership of the automotive industry is far from being Proudly Nigerian.
We all know how this story goes. Nigeria has an incredible amount of potential for growth in the automotive sector, much like all others. But due to poorly maintained infrastructure, this potential remains unrealised. Instead, all of the economic value to be taken from the Nigerian automotive industry goes to multinational corporations and foreign businesses which are already thriving in markets abroad.
What’s more, these brands of cars tend to be more expensive for the average Nigerian, especially in comparison to locally made vehicles. For example, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company is the first indigenous automobile producing company in Nigeria. Its state-of-the-art features easily match and in some cases surpass the quality of any motor vehicles that have been imported from abroad.
The Nigerian government has also done its part to end foreign dependency in the automotive industry. Earlier this year, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment signed an agreement with the Volkswagen Group to develop a joint vision for an automotive hub here in Nigeria.
This recent move is just one step in the government’s overall Nigerian Automotive Policy, which aims to facilitate a transition from the importation of used cars to the manufacture and distribution of new passenger vehicles. Of course, as with many development projects in the country, there is the eternal question of whether or not this policy will translate well into practice.
In addition to that, it is a shame that the government does not see the irony in the fact that it needs to consult with a multinational company in order to end dependence on multinational companies for automobiles.
What all of these means is that it depends on us. Nigerians must, in the spirit of sisterhood and nationalism, come together and consciously support Nigerian owned marques and automobile companies. If we are able to stop undermining the quality of Nigerian-made products, we will all reap the benefits of investing in them. May God bless our country Nigeria.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom.