By Our Reporter
Chairman, Senate Committee on Industry, Senator Tokunbo Abiru has commended Dangote Sinotruk West Africa for its impressive commitment to Nigeria’s economic development through investment in a vehicle assembly plant in the country.
According to him, with Dangote Sinotruk West Africa, Nigeria’s path to self-reliance in vehicle assembling has begun. “We want to encourage the company to continue to see how best to make Nigeria self-reliant in vehicle assembling as well as encourage other players in the value chain to also get on board”, he said.
Abiru said in as much as members of the Senate Committee on Industry would prefer a factory setting where almost everything are manufactured here in Nigeria, “we believe what Dangote Sinotruk have in place is a very good starting point towards achieving backward integration in vehicle assembling in Nigeria.”
He stated: “What the company is doing is one of the ways you can advance the economy of this country. The company has a production line that assembles trucks that are needed for economic activities in Nigeria. For us in the Senate, this is a very good starting point. Our desire is for Completely Knocked Down parts (CKDs) to be manufactured here in Nigeria.
“The Dangote Sinotruk plant will assist the government to preserve foreign exchange that would have been used to imports trucks into the country. The company is also providing employment to many Nigerians. What we need on the part of government is to continue to support the company to grow,” Abiru added.
In his remarks, Group General Manager, Dangote Sinotruk West Africa Limited, Hikmat Thapa, thanked the Senate Committee members for taking out time to tour the vehicle assembly plant.
Thapa said the company seeks to meet the growing demand for the automobile industry required for logistics, construction, food & beverage industries in Nigeria to support the government’s efforts to boost economic development across the country.
In his presentation to the Senate Committee members, Assistant Manager, Sinotruk West Africa, Engr. M.J Kogis disclosed that to support the Federal Government’s backward integration drive for Nigerian products, the company is planning a project expansion to enhance value addition and increase local inputs to 40 – 60 per cent within West Africa.
According to him, Sinotruk has installed capacity to assemble and produce 15 – 16 Trucks per shift, equivalent to 10,000 trucks annually, adding that this project aims to generate about 3,000 job opportunities across Nigeria. He added that the company has expanded its original structure to create welding and paint lines to fabricate various truck cabins.
“Aside from creating an ‘All-in-one’ complete assembly system, this expansion project enhances the local content of CKD operation. Dangote Sinotruk West Africa Limited is the only company with CKD capabilities in West Africa.
“The quality products of Sinotruk are of high standard which are reliable and adaptable to any environment, enabling them to stably serve our customers in various climatic environments, working sites, and operational conditions of different countries”, he said.
Kogis identified lack of foreign exchange and unhealthy competition with automobile companies evading government policies and regulations without proper certification for CKD assembly as some of the challenges confronting the company. “Certified automobile companies tend to run at a loss when placed on the same platform of expenditure”, he added.
He urged the Federal Government to review and implement favourable policies towards the development of automobile companies in Nigeria. He also called on the government to provide grants and financial aid through the Bank of Industry (BOI) and direct forex allocation from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the opening of Letters of Credit (L.C.)
Speaking on importance of Dangote Sinotruk on Nigeria’s economic development, Kogis stated: “Dangote Sinotruk West Africa Limited as a Joint Venture aims to play a strategic and key role in the manufacturing and assembly industry to develop trucks to serve the various logistics needs of the populace. With this goal in mind, we are structured to provide employment opportunities to the masses in line with Dangote Group objectives as well as improve local automobile industry and promote the economic development in Nigeria.”
He said the company has the responsibility to assemble and produce a full range of commercial vehicles covering Heavy-Duty trucks, Medium-Duty trucks, Light Trucks, and other semi-trailers, etc.
He added that company provides employment opportunities to Nigerians, improves the local automobile industry, adds equipment base and achieves technological advancement in Nigeria to promote the economic development in Nigeria