ECOWAS to implement automotive industry policy to reduce vehicle import

Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA

Accra, May 11, GNA – Ministers and
Commissioners responsible for Trade, Industry and Investment in the Economic
Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) are meeting in Accra to deliberate and
validate the ECOWAS Automotive Industry Policy Framework.

The validation of the policy would enable
ECOWAS member countries to harmonise their automotive policies in order to
optimise the benefit in the value chain of the industry.

Currently, countries in the sub-region
import 450,000 vehicles every year out of which 80% are used vehicles.

Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, Ghana’s Minister
of Trade and Industry, in his welcome address, at the opening of the Ministerial
Meeting on Validation of ECOWAS Automotive Industry Policy Framework, on
Friday, said regional harmonisation of the automotive policies would accelerate
the implementation of the policy.

He noted that the automotive industry had
wide value chain therefore some countries could decide to produce some parts of
the vehicle such as car tyres, wipers, spare parts among others, which would
prevent unnecessary competition among member countries.

Mr Kyerematen said the automotive industry
was a strategic sector, which would aid in solving the unemployment situation
in the sub-region, and underlined the need for ECOWAS nations to adopt
manufacturing and industrialization policies to help solve the unemployment challenge.

In that vein, Nana Akudo-Addo’s government
had adopted comprehensive and robust industrialisation policy through the
formulation of 10-points plan, including the One-District, One Factory
initiative, which each district was being supported to establish an enterprise.

Additionally, government was establishing
anchor industries and One-Region, One-Park, which would serve as an industrial
enclave for each region to accelerate economic growth, he explained.

The Minister believed that it was only
through economic industrialisation that would aid the nation to add value to
its natural resources and expand the import substitution as well as create jobs
for the teeming unemployed youth.

For the past 100 years, he said, Ghana had
been deepening on cocoa and gold for the sustenance of its economy, therefore
it was adopting a paradigm shift in its economic development, and that the
ECOWAS Automotive Policy was in sync with the Government’s industrialization

He underlined the need for ECOWAS countries
to harmonise and standardise their national policies on the importation of
vehicles, which would aid in reducing the importation of used vehicles into the
sub-region, saying that there should be a common orientation on the free trade liberation
within the sub-region to facilitate the free movement of goods and services.

Mr Kyerematen advised ECOWAS nations to
strategise ways to attract original equipment manufacturers such as Toyota, BMW,
Nissan and others so that they could learn from them to improve the standard.

Mr Yero Baldeh, the Country Director of the
African Development Bank, said the ECOWAS Automotive Policy would contribute to
ithe Bank’s “Industrialise Africa” and Integrate Africa” goals, which is in
line with its private sector strategy.

He said the Bank’s strategic goal was to
help improve the capacity of African producers, particularly manufacturers to
compete with imported products in the local market.

“As you’re aware, industry has always played
a vital role in development. It boosts economic activity along value chains
from raw materials to finished products. It lifts productivity by introducing
new equipment and new techniques, increases the capacities of the workforce, and
diffuses these improvements into the wider economy, it generates formal
employment, which in turn creates jobs,” Mr Baldeh pointed out.

He expressed optimism that the
implementation of the policy document would give the necessary impetus to transform
the industrial and economic landscape of the sub-region.

Madam Aisha Abubakar, the Minister of State
of Industry, Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who
presided over the meeting, said the ECOWAS Automotive Policy was rooted on the
experience of the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan, which
commenced in 2013.

She said 58 firms had registered to engage
in car assembling plants in Nigeria and believed the ECOWAS Automotive Policy
has inherent benefits that would accelerate the development of West Africa.

For instance, she said, a country that has
the potential for rubber plantation may set up a tyre manufacturing plant while
others could establish recycling plants or a scrap metal plant that would speed
up the economic growth of the sub-region.

The meeting was organised by the ECOWAS
Commission in collaboration with the African Development Bank with support from
Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Trust Fund, which attracted trade, industry
and investment ministers and commissioners in the sub-region as well as heads
of key sector agencies.


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