President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday unveiled the first Volkswagen (VW) car assembled in the country, and restated the resolve of government to stimulate the local automotive industry to boost the economy.
The ‘Tiguan Highline Plus’ brand, is the product of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)signed by the government and the German automobile company in 2018 to establish a vehicle assembly facility in the country.
Other brands displayed at the event, attended by government officials, industry players, were the Teramont, Amarok, Polo and Passat, which were all assembled by Universal Motors Limited, on behalf of the VW.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the creation of a vehicle manufacturing and assembling industry was one of the anchor industries of the government’s development agenda.
Noting that the vehicle imports in the country was estimated at 1.5 billion dollars annually, he said the new industry would promote import substitution, enhance Ghanaian exports in the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCTA) framework, when it becomes operational.
Additionally, he said, it would decrease the importation of used vehicles, create jobs, strengthen the local currency, and increase foreign exchange through exportation of made-in-Ghana vehicles.
The President, therefore, reiterated the government’s commitment to create the enabling environment and incentives for both local and foreign companies to thrive in the sector through the Ghana Automotive Development Policy.
“The Volkswagen means the people’s car and I am expecting that the brands being assembled in Ghana would not only be affordable but be of the highest quality. I assure Volkswagen Ghana that government will continue to support the company in diverse ways to ensure substantiality,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo, restated the government’s directives to all state agencies and the Public Procurement Authority to give first preference to locally assembled vehicles in the procurement of vehicles.
“In developing the new automotive industry in Ghana, it is not our intention to destroy the livelihood of local stakeholders engaged in the industry’s value chain,” he said and stated that government would introduce policies to protect their interests, he said.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanten, said the stimulation of the local automotive industry was a step in making the country’s economy robust since all the countries with strong economies had vibrant automotive industries.
“We have sewn the seed of what will lift Ghana to the global stage,” he said.
Testifying of the high quality and cost effectiveness of the German vehicles, the Trade Minister said, “VW is here and as it is often said the sweetness of the pudding is in the eating”.
The Chairman and Managing Director of VW Group, South Africa, Thomas Schaefer, in a virtual address, said the company had the capacity to produce 5,000 units annually depending on market demand and poised to deliver.
He described the Ghana Automotive Development Policy as groundbreaking and while commending the government and other stakeholders for the collaboration so far and pledged to play a leading role in realising the country’s vision.
According to the VW Ghana Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jeffrey Oppong Peprah, Ghana was now the 5th assembling plant in the sub-Saharan Africa and would enjoy value- for- money service amongst the benefits of its existence.
The German Ambassador to Ghana, Christoph Retzlaff, who joined the event virtually, described the feat achieved as a milestone in the Ghana-German relations and rallied German companies to do business with Ghana.
For his part, the CEO of Universal Motors Limited, Subhi Accad, pledged to live up to expectation in the assembling of the vehicles.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR