Toyota to build vehicle assembly plants in Ghana, Ivory Coast

Toyota-GbanaToyota Motors Corporation has concluded plans to site its vehicle assembly plants in Ghana and Ivory Coast, after signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with authorities of these two West African nations.

The president and chief executive officer of Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the trading arm of the Toyota Group, Ichiro Kashitani, announced the company’s intention on Thursday, to start assembling its vehicles in Ghana from August 2020.

Likewise, the Ivory Coast’s government, said it signed an agreement on Thursday with Toyota to build a vehicle assembly plant in the country.

The office of Ivorian Prime Minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, disclosing this in a statement the agreement was signed at a Japan-Africa development conference in Yokohama, Japan, by Gon Coulibaly and Ichiro Kashitani, CEO of Toyota Tsusho, a unit of the automotive and industrial group.

While the statement did not give details on the number or type of vehicles to be produced in Ivory Coast by Toyota, it said the process for establishing the auto plant will be launched before the end of the year.

But the CEO of Toyota Tsusho, Kashitani, while speaking at the Thursday signing of the the MoU with the Ghanaian authorities, described the establishment of a Toyota and Suzuki assembly plant in the country, as a marriage that will last for life.

“We consider the project of the assembly plant a marriage. It lasts for life, and it is a long-term project,” he said

Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo, responding, said he signed the MoU with Toyota Tsusho in line with the vision of making Ghana an automotive hub for West Africa and the larger African market.

According to President Akufo-Addo  with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ghana is the base to reach the larger African market.

“We are attaching a great deal of importance to the initiative and development,” the president said.

“We want to assure you that, whatever it is we can do on the side of the Ghana Government to provide you with the necessary support and assurance that the investment you are going to make in our country will be worth your while, you can count on us to do that.”

Also, Toyota’s chief operations officer in charge of the Africa division, Imai Toshimitsu, said the favourable economic climate prevailing in the Ghana necessitated the decision to set up in the country.

“We are willing to participate in the automotive industry in Ghana,” he said.

“I am very happy that we have reached the consensus and principal agreement to start the Toyota and Suzuki assembly plants. We are planning to kick-off the project immediately, and, hopefully, we will have first car made in Ghana this time (August) next year. Thank you very much for your support.

Toshimitsu said the decision to assemble Suzuki vehicles in Ghana is sequel to the acquisition of 4.9% stake in Suzuki by Toyota Tsusho, on Wednesday, making the company a principal shareholder in Suzuki.

“The products to be assembled in Ghana include the Toyota Hilux pickup, which is already popular in Ghana. Since it will be locally produced, I hope it will be more popular. We are also planning to introduce small passenger cars, with two Suzuki brands,” he stated.

“So, Suzuki products will be assembled and sold in Ghana. The cars which will be produced in Ghana are our core models for Africa and Ghana customers.”

The Japanese auto giant, Toyota, already produces cars in South Africa, which has a well-developed auto industry.

It will be recalled that as part of its interest to launch directly into the African market, in 2016, Toyota Tsusho acquired CFAO, a French automobile retailer, which operates in 35 countries in Africa.

VW and Nissan have also set up operations in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana or have pledged to do so. Honda and Peugeot have launched assembly plants in Nigeria and Peugeot has done the same in Kenya.

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