Buhari Bids for Nigeria to be Next as Toyota Finalises Plans to Establish Assembly Plants in Ghana, Ivory Coast


Japanese automotive manufacturer, Toyota has concluded plans to establish vehicle assembly plants in Ghana and Ivory Coast, after signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the governments of both countries.

Ghana’s minister of trade & industry. Alan Kyeremanten (right), CEO of Toyota Tsusho, Ichiro Kashitani, signing the MoU. Behind them is President Akufo-Addo. Credit: ghana.gov.gh

Toyota’s plan to start assembling vehicles in Ghana from August 2020 was revealed by Ichiro Kashitani, CEO of Toyota Tsusho Corporation during the signing ceremony.

I am very happy that we have reached the consensus and principal agreement to start the Toyota and Suzuki assembly plants. We are planning to kick-off the project immediately, and, hopefully, we will have the first car made in Ghana this time (August) next year. Thank you very much for your support.

Ichiro Kashitani, CEO of Toyota Tsusho Corporation

Similarly, a statement has been released by the Ivorian government disclosing that Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly and Ichiro Kashitani signed an agreement to build a vehicle assembly plant in the country.

Details on the type of vehicles that will be assembled in Ivory Coast by Toyota weren’t revealed in the statement but it said the process for building the assembly plant will kick-off before the end of the year.

However, Imai Toshimitsu, Toyota’s chief operations officer in charge of the Africa division, said that the Toyota Hilux pickup will be one of the vehicles to be assembled in the proposed plant in Ghana.

The products to be assembled in Ghana include the Toyota Hilux pickup, which is already popular in Ghana. Since it will be locally produced, I hope it will be more popular. We are also planning to introduce small passenger cars, with two Suzuki brands.

Imai Toshimitsu, Toyota’s chief operations officer in charge of the Africa division
Toyota in Africa

Kashitani described Toyota’s choice to open other Assembly plants in Africa after the success of Toyota South Africa “as a marriage that will last for life”.

 “We consider the project of the assembly plant a marriage. It lasts for life, and it is a long-term project,”

Ichiro Kashitani, CEO of Toyota Tsusho Corporation
Nana Akufo-Addo and Ichiro Kashitani

Expressing his support of Toyota’s plans, the Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, promised that his government will provide the necessary assistance and assurance to Toyota’s Investment.

We want to assure you that, whatever it is we can do on the side of the Ghana Government to provide you with the necessary support and assurance that the investment you are going to make in our country will be worth your while, you can count on us to do that.

Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

He also revealed that the agreement was in line with the vision of making Ghana an automotive hub for West Africa and the larger African market. According to President Akufo-Addo, Ghana is the base to reach the larger African market with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),

Is Nigeria next in line?

According to a UN estimate, Nigeria with a GDP of about $440 billion and a population of about 200 million is Africa’s biggest market.

The country’s economy, however, is faced with significant challenges like power shortage, inadequate road networks and stiff regulations that discourage foreign companies like Toyota from doing business in the country.

Nigeria was rank low by the World Bank in its recent Ease of Doing Business report, ranking 146th among 190 countries. This report could serve as a deterrent to prospective investors as some use it when making investment decisions.  

Buhari woos Toyota

During the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7), President Buhari urged the Toyota group to consider setting up a car assembly plant in Nigeria. He maintained that the country had the capacity to absorb investment for positive returns.

President Buhari

The President added that Nigeria had introduced the Ease of Doing Business, and bureaucratic bottlenecks that could hinder them were being cleared off the way.

Ichiro Kashitani, responding at a bilateral meeting, indicated that Toyota would be delighted to have a presence in Nigeria. He said the company had an interest in sectors like energy, healthcare and automobiles in Nigeria.

 Toyota Tsusho wishes to also build an advanced medical diagnostics centre, which would foreclose need for foreign travel to obtain cutting edge medical diagnosis.

Ichiro Kashitani, CEO of Toyota Tsusho Corporation

If Nigeria prioritises stabilising the economy, the country’s stand as Africa’s largest market will be irresistible. But for now, the planned assembly plants in Ghana and Ivory Coast will enable the auto-mobile manufacturer to assemble Toyota and Suzuki products to cater to its West African market, including Nigeria.

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