SA can be the catalyst for the creation of a successful sub-Saharan African motor industry — but first it must convince the rest of the world that it’s worth the effort, says Volkswagen SA (VWSA) MD Thomas Schaefer. Except in SA, attempts by multinational motor companies to establish industries across the region have almost all failed. For example, in the Angolan capital, Luanda, a vehicle assembly plant and component supplier park still lie empty more than a decade after they were launched. In Nigeria, several motor companies have entered assembly joint ventures with local partners in the past five years, only for activities to grind to a virtual halt. The catastrophic collapse in world oil prices in recent years starved Nigerian customers, including government, of income to buy vehicles. Then there is the blocking by customs officials of government-approved import-duty reductions on partly built vehicles destined for final assembly in Nigeria. These vehicles, known as semi knocked...

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