Elizade begins assemblage of JAC motors in Nigeria
• Urges govt to make forex available to automakers
Elizade Auto Land Ltd, authorised dealer of JAC Motors in Nigeria, on Wednesday started assemblage operation in Lagos to roll out 15, 000 vehicles yearly from Semi Knock Down (SKD) parts.
The plant, which is currently operating on a single shift was certified by the Federal Government to build different brands of cars. But it has been idle because of the ability to access foreign exchange, Managing Director, Elizade Nigeria Limited, Ademola Ade-Ojo said at an event in Lagos, to officially announce full operation of the plant.
The Federal Government had introduced the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) in 2013, with an expectation to generate employment, boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP), promote small, medium and micro-enterprises (SME) in the sector. It is also meant to aid skills development and transfer of innovation and technology.
Though the development from Elizade may be a great move towards that plan, Ade-Ojo worried that the prevailing economic sitaution, particularly the scarcity of dollar may continue to frustrate players provided government refused to create special window for automakers to access forex.
He said: “It is difficult getting forex. We are supposed to have opened the plant since last year but it has been idle most of the time,”
Ade-Ojo stated that the plant, which would assemble JAC models, including passenger and light duty vehicles, may not venture into the assemblage of Complete Knock Down (CKD) until government addressed key challenges that would enable the firm add at least 30 per cent local content in its production.
He said the organisation commenced operation despite the economic shortfall in order to deliver affordable products that would assuage the plight of Nigerians and support government’s efforts in the sector.
“We are the largest automotive group in the country in terms of units. It will be irresponsible of us to sit down and fold our arms. We need to do everything to introduce cheaper products to the market. What we are doing today is the demonstration to ensure that we support the government and have something that the customer can buy.
“Moving our production to CKD depends on how government ensures that the other factors key into ensuring that CKD thrived. CKD cannot thrive unless you have a minimum of about 30 per cent locally sourced material.
“If you can’t source 30 per cent local content, there is no point in doing CKD. It depends on how government structures the auto market and the industry,” Ade-Ojo said.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Agriculture Development Authority, Dr. Pereira Sheteola, who said he converted the agency’s budget meant to purchase another brand of vehicle last year to buy a JAC T6 pick up because of price differences, said the vehicle offered satisfaction beyond his expectation.
He believed the ruggedness, fuel efficiency, security features, reverse sensors and the driving capacity placed the model as one of the most affordable and durable in the market.