Nigeria motor-fairs yearly confronted by stakeholder apathy
… FG’s moves to organize locally-assembled auto show
The federal government is planning exhibition of locally assembled vehicles in October this year. This is to enable stakeholders that lay claim that they assemble vehicles locally in Nigeria to prove it by showcasing them to the public.
The proposed October ‘Made-In-Nigeria’ auto fair was disclosed by the board chairman of the National Design and Development Council, Osita Izunaso, a one-time senator during the commissioning of the National Automotive Design & Development Council (NADDC) solar powered electric vehicle charging station at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) recently.
The after effect of the coronavirus impact is spreading across the global business climate and Nigeria is nor an exception especially within automotive sector, and this to a large extent is making automobile assemblers and marketers to Nigeria feel insecure participating in auto exhibitions organized in the country in the near future.
Their fears are further compounded by the grossly below average participation of many leading auto dealers in the country and abysmal very low turn-out witnessed during the just concluded Lagos Motorfair, which in the past 14 years have remained one of the major auto fairs in the country.
The graph also shows that attendance to previous editions were seriously dropping to an all-time low which many say is an indication that, all is not well with the economy.
Apart from vehicle dealers, regular spare parts exhibitors from overseas and other dealers in auto and allied products and services were absent due mainly to Covid-19.
The low turnout, according to investigation has to do with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic worsened by the poor economic situation which has not only affected car dealerships across the country, but has drastically reduced the purchasing power of car users.
This year, many Nigerians were shocked that notable big name like Toyota Nigeria Limited; which unarguably lights up the annual automobile exhibition, PAN Nigeria Limited, Massilia Motors, distributors of Mitsubishi Motors; CFAO/Suzuki, Stallion Motors, dealers of over seven brands; and Westar Limited, dealers of Mercedes among others that stayed away from what could be described as annual ritual.
Unlike other editions where over 50 vehicles would be on display by different Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers, the fair witnessed abysmal number of cars and SUVs on display from Mikano Motors, Kia, OMAA, Jet Systems and Coscharis Motors.
General manager, marketing and corporate communication, Coscharis group, Babarinde Abiona, said at the opening ceremony that, the event was not a jamboree but an opportunity to showcase what is new in the sector.
He appealed to the government to create an enabling environment and policy that supports the business that makes the automotive industry a viable economy.
He said with the entry of more players in the industry it shows there is a win-win solution for everyone.
Alluding to the poor turnout at the fair, managing director, BKG Exhibitions Limited, Ifeanyi Agwu, said it is indeed a seriously challenging time in the automotive industry in Nigeria.
Agwu said it is a season that has thrown up more challenges than ever before. A lot of companies have closed shop while a large number are merely existing and direly in need of life supports. This, he said, can be confirmed by the number of exhibitors in this year’s edition.
He added “Ordinarily it is the delight and wish of any serious player in the industry to showcase amongst others but here we are witnessing the opposite.
“All the relevant stakeholders must join hands and release the synergy that will see the sector regain the traction it has gained with the introduction of the NAIDP. This will help to fast track the development of the sector.
For Toyota, their absence in the fair has to do with cutting of expenses which are usually associated with such fairs.
A source at the Toyota Nigeria Limited (TNL) attributed its non-appearance at motorfair to the short notice from the organisers and finance issue.
“Everyone is cutting down on cost and eliminating expenses that have no direct bearing on sales”, the source hinted.
In his views, former director of policy and planning of the NADDC, Mamudu Luqman said, “The industry is now in a state of suspended animation.” He said the absence of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) is virtually killing the industry.
“We are hopeful that the minister of industry and finance will soon realize that they were wrongly advised and send a revised NAIDP to FEC for consideration. I understand it’s ready but I don’t know what they are keeping it.
Section 38 of the 2020 Finance act makes it practically unattractive to invest in local value addition like basic assembly. If you can import a fully built pickup at 10%, why will you import the same vehicle in SKD form? It doesn’t make sense. So everyone is now an importer. It would have attracted more participation if tagged special auction for new and used vehicles.
“Workers already trained by the industry are gradually dispersing as the companies cannot continue to retain them.
“We just lost Toyota to Ghana. They approached us first. I know. I led the investment delegation to meet with Toyota Tsumitomo in Japan and the company was quite receptive. The only key demand was that Nigeria should legislate the NAIDP, but the president was advised not to sign it. Those who so advised know themselves.”
Also speaking on the motor fair, a senior lecturer at the mass communications department, Convenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Oscar Odiboh said that the low turnout is clearly a backlash from the economic situation, together with the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
According to Odiboh, due to economic downturn, people have not been able to raise enough money to buy new cars, adding that even tokunbo vehicles were equally affected.
Odiboh who also an automotive and communications consultant, said the only people who were able to participate in the motor show were ardent visitors as very few people are buying cars.
“The economic situation has a role to play in it. In 2009/2010, it affected the auto show. The same in 2011- 2015. The show was affected these previous years and attendance was based on the factors I mentioned above”. Odiboh said.
Kia Motors Nigeria marketing manager, Olawale Jimoh confirmed that Kia Motors attended the event and that it was okay.
Olawale stated that the event was okay and that it afforded them the opportunity to display their new models, Olawale hinted that the fair was the first major event that was able to bring auto assemblers together.
Attributing the low turnout to COVID-19 pandemic and reduction in purchasing power of the people, Olawale said “the low turnout is due to pandemic. Again, part of the cause also is the continued reduction in the purchasing power of the people. There has been continued reduction of the purchasing power of the people because the economy has been unstable, which has affected the auto sector”
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