Breaking the ice and taking advantage of the encouraged intracontinental trade, Isuzu Motors SA has commenced shipping knocked-down kits for its Isuzu D-Max bakkie to Kenya.
The Port Elizabeth-based motor manufacturer exports the kits from the Port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape. Industry experts have welcomed the move, which allows for tariff-free passage of goods across Africa.
Responding to written questions from City Press this week, Isuzu Motors SA corporate affairs, business strategy and legal executive Denise van Huyssteen said the Kenyan project was an important step in the company achieving its growth strategy, which is geared at strengthening its presence in key sub-Saharan Africa markets.
“This is done through a combination of tactical knocked-down kit initiatives to grow our volumes and strengthen our dealer distribution networks.
“It took our team only four months to develop an appropriate programme.
“Representatives from Isuzu East Africa participated in a rigorous two-week training programme in South Africa, while on-the-job training will continue at the Kenyan plant on an ongoing basis,” she said, adding that Kenya was Isuzu’s biggest market in sub-Saharan Africa, with the brand commanding 44.5% share of the overall market last year.
Van Huyssteen was not at liberty to reveal how much the deal was worth. However, the current projection is that 1 300 vehicles will be sent to Kenya per year, with that number expected to increase with time.
Isuzu east Africa managing director Rita Kavashe welcomed the initiative, adding that it gave the Kenyan operation flexibility and an opportunity to remain competitive.
Isuzu has 79 dealers in South Africa and 33 in sub-Saharan Africa.
In his inaugural address as chair of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa strongly encouraged African countries to trade among themselves.
He said the AU should put measures in place to make sure that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement does not result in goods from outside Africa passing through the continent.
“We must all ensure that the AfCFTA does not become a conduit for products with minimal African value addition to enter and penetrate our local markets under the guise of continental integration,” Ramaphosa said.