The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in conjunction with the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) has commissioned has commissioned $1 billion (about N360 billion) worth of locally assembled vehicles.
The vehicles are manufactured in the country by 17 companies such as Innoson, Nissan, Coscharis, Ford and Elizade Motors.
Adeniyi Adebayo, the Industry, Trade and Investment Minister, during the commissioning of the Nigerian-made and assembled automobiles in Abuja on Monday observed the vehicles would later be showcased at the Argungu Motor Rally.
The inaugural edition of the motor rally will be kicked off in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister said plans were afoot by the NADDC to make the Argungu Motor Rally a yearly festival for the Nigerian local auto industry although the rally is part of the Argungu Annual International Fishing and Cultural Festival.
He expressed optimism in the progress of the country in automotive assembly saying the sector had posted tens of thousands of newly assembled vehicles despite beginning from a zero production level in 2012.
Mr Adebayo affirmed that the unveiling of the 10-year Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP 2013-2023) in 2013 had made it possible for 62 firms to be registered to assemble vehicles.
The former Ekiti State Governor disclosed that the companies were registered to assemble vehicles at Semi Knocked Down (SKD) and Completely Knocked Down (CKD) levels with a total installed capacity of 423,790 units.
He observed that an actual assemblage of 10,343 units had been attained to date just as 31 automotive assembly companies were currently listed under the Bureau of Public Procurement for patronage.
“The vehicles and brands for unveiling are a testament to the zeal and commitment of the automotive industrial subsector to the present government’s efforts towards diversification of the non-oil sector of the economy.
“The role of the NADDC in reviving and sustaining the automotive sector has greatly helped in stimulating growth and development in Nigerian automotive industry,’ Mr Adebayo said.
He enjoined Nigerians to patronise made-in-Nigeria vehicles with a view to creating jobs, driving investment, conserving foreign exchange, building capacity and transferring technology to the citizenry.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, who was represented by Nasir Gwarzo, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, urged the auto firms to improve local content and repose their trust in government’s dedication to the diversification of the economy.
On his part, Jelani Aliyu, the NADDC Director General confirmed that $1 billion had been invested by the auto companies whose vehicles were being commissioned while 4,700 people had been directly employed in the sector.
Aliyu said it earmarked N5 billion aimed at a single digit vehicle finance scheme and was in talks with banks including Wema, Jaiz and Zenith in order to provide the financing for made-in-Nigeria vehicles.
He asserted that the organisation was building three automotive testing centres and three automobile service hubs across Nigeria in order to boost sustainability and maintenance culture.
“Not just to build cars for 200 million people but to support local producers by opening up for them market opportunities to the one billion people of the African continent,’’ he said.
Mr Aliyu expressed his discontentment with the fact that the country spends $8 billion (about N2.932 trillion) every year to import 300,000 to 400,000 vehicles.