Local automotive industry must be sustained

What started as a vision by the government to develop a local automotive industry about three years ago came to pass yesterday, when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo unveiled the first Volkswagen car to be assembled in the country.

The German-based company, in 2018, which signed a memorandum of understanding with Ghana, has through months of preparations with its local partnership, officially started operation.

Indeed, this is not the first time a car has been assembled in the country, given that immediately after Independence, the government of the great Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, established an assembling plant that produced cars locally.

For those who are old enough, the mention of the name “Boafo” evokes a lot of nostalgic feelings. In recent times one cannot speak of the automobile industry without mentioning Kantaka Automobile, which is fully owned by the Ghanaian industrialist, Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo.

However, what makes yesterday’s event exceptional is that the automotive industry has been given a shot in the arm and set on the path of development that would come with many benefits.

As President Akufo-Addo noted at the historic ceremony, a local automotive industry would reduce importation of vehicles, make cars affordable and rake in more foreign exchange.

Additionally, it would increase exports, create direct and indirect jobs, reduce over-reliance on accident cars imported into the country, which have been found to contribute to accidents on our roads.

We are aware that more of such global companies are at various stages of preparations to also set up assembling plants in the country in the coming months and would, in due course, come with their own benefits.

For years, there have been suggestions from industry players on the need for the country to get its own automotive industry and put the ingenuity of the Ghanaian youth to use.

There have also been concerns about how the high cost of brand new vehicles imported into the country, have given rise to the over-reliance on accident and salvaged cars, which is considered a bit cheaper for the Ghanaian consumer, thus making the country a dumping site for such defective vehicles.

The Ghanaian Times is of the view that with the stimulation of the local vehicle industry, the country is on the right track to resolving some of these concerns raised by diverse stakeholders.

As beginners, the involvement of these leading car manufacturers cannot be underestimated since it would have a substantial impact on our efforts and build the capacity of Ghanaians.

Of particular importance in this journey, is the Ghana Automotive Development Policy, which aims at establishing a fully integrated and competitive hub for automotive manufacturing in collaboration with private sector, both in the global, regional and local industry.

President Akufo-Addo has noted that in this policy lies a carefully developed strategy to guide our path in this new found field, and we hope that it would not be a document that would be left to gather dust on the shelf.

The Ghanaian Times welcomes Volkswagen and others in the offing and hopes that the company would provide value for money and the quality that their representatives have touted.

We also commend the government on the development of this industry, and hope the investments would be sustained to offer the desired benefits to the socio-economic development of the country.

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