Global Firms Compete For Share Of Kenya’s Lucrative Auto Market

Global Firms Compete For Share Of Kenya’s Lucrative Auto Market

Statistics indicate that automobile demand in South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia in 2012 reached 1.4 million units, and is projected to increase to 1.8 million by 2017. This represents 30 percent over five years or 6 percent annual growth.

“However, we believe that potential of many African countries is stronger and that actual growth will exceed 6 percent per year,” said Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko, in an email to AFK Insider. “This is due to increased wealth and growing population.”

Africa is considered the next most-promising auto market after Brazil, Russia, India and China. To reposition itself in the region’s auto industry, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (MMC) held its first ever African Distributor conference in Nairobi July 20. Mitsubishi regularly holds distributor meetings around the world. This was the first held exclusively for African distributors.

“We are sure that once motorization speeds up, the increase in demand for many countries in the African region will exceed 30 percent in five years,” Masuko said. “There is no doubt dynamic expansion can be expected in the region.”

Global auto companies believe this is the time to begin full-scale African operations to tap into the region’s potential. Mitsubishi is planning to quickly solidify foundations for future growth.

Key factors for its strategy include human resource development and establishment of infrastructure. At the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development held in Japan in June 2012, these two factors were discussed as key drivers for the growth of African markets. Mitsubishi revealed plans to improve the service skills of its mechanics.

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“Although Mitsubishi Motors currently does not have its own business hub in Africa, we will change this by re-establishing a regional office here in Nairobi and dispatching Japanese to staff to it,” Masuko said.

Mitsubishi in the past had sales staff from Tokyo stationed in Nairobi; however this was discontinued in 1996. After almost 20 years, Mitsubishi plans to resume operations in Kenya.

“We are sure the Japanese staff to be dispatched to our new regional office will work closely with our partners and stakeholders to bring us fresh opinions from African consumers. By doing so they will function as a bridge for Mitsubishi Motors to deepen its knowledge of Africa,” Masuko said.

Mistubishi sales position the auto dealer at No. 3 among Japanese brands after Toyota and Nissan.

“We are not satisfied with the current position, and we are dedicated to improve this through full-scale operations throughout Africa,” Masuko said.