Stakeholders in the nation’s automotive industry are pessimistic of the future of auto fairs in Nigeria.
Their fears are being ignited following a very low turnout recorded during the just concluded 15th edition of the Lagos Motor Fair organized by BKG Exhibitions Limited.
Strong indications to future apathy from stakeholders emerged as the event recorded an all-time low turnout of auto dealers and other stakeholders in the nation’s automotive industry. The previous edition recorded the same low turnout.
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 an investigation has to do with the outbreak of the 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.
Unlike other editions where over 50 vehicles would be on display by different Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers, the fair witnessed few cars and SUVs on display from Mikano Motors, Kia, OMAA, Jet Systems and Coscharis Motors.
This year, other big names that stayed away from the event are Toyota Nigeria Limited, Massilia Motors (distributors of Mitsubishi Motors); CFAO/Suzuki, Stallion Motors, dealers and local assembler of over seven brands; and Weststar Limited, dealers of Mercedes-benz brand, among others.
In his comment, general manager, marketing and corporate communication, Coscharis Group, Babarinde Abiona, said 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 support and make the automotive industry a viable economy.
“The entry of more players in the industry shows there is a win-win solution for everyone,” he added.
Alluding to the poor turnout at the fair, the managing director, BKG Exhibitions Limited, Ifeanyi Agwu, said it is indeed a seriously challenging time in the automotive industry in Nigeria.
“It is a season that has thrown up more challenges than ever before,” Agwu said, adding, “A lot of companies have closed shop, while a large number are merely existing and direly in need of life supports. This can be confirmed by the number of exhibitors in this year’s edition.
“Ordinarilyit 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.”
Toyota’s absence in the fair has to do with cutting of expenses, which are usually associated with such fairs.
A source at Toyota Nigeria Limited (TNL) attributed its absence to the short notice from the organizers and finance issue.
“Everyone is cutting down on cost and eliminating expenses that have no direct bearing on sales”, the source hinted.
Responding, former director of policy and Strategy of the NADDC, Mamudu Lukman said the industry is now in a state of suspended animatiot.
According to him, the absence of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) is virtually killing the industry.
He said: “We are hopeful that the minister of industry and finance will soon realize that they were wrongly advised and send a revised NAIDP to the National Assembly for re-consideration. I understand it’s ready but I don’t know why 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% duty, 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 can’t 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 in Japan and the company was quite receptive. The only key demand was that Nigeria should legislate the NAIDP, but the president was advised no to sign it. Those who so advised know themselves.”
Also speaking on the motor fair, a senior lecturer at the Mass Communications department, Covenant University, Otta, Ogun State, Dr. Oscar Odiboh described the low turnout as a backlash from the economic situation, together with the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
According to Odiboh, due to the 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 is 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.
He explained: “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”.
In his view, the marketing manager, Kia Motors, Nigeria, Olawale Jimoh confirmed that Kia Motors attended the event and that it was okay.
Olawale said the event afforded his company the opportunity to display new models.
According to Olawale, the fair was the first major event that was able to bring auto assemblers together.
Olawale, who attributed the low Olawale said : “The low turnout is due to Covid-19. 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.
“The opening ceremony of the auto fair gave us an opportunity to have the first-hand experience to see the DG, NADDC. At the show, the DG made some good promises, which have to do with government support for the auto sector. If the promises came to fruition, it will assist to boost the industry once again.”
©Copyright MOTORING WORLD INTERNATIONAL.
All rights reserved. Materials, photographs, illustrations and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior written permission from Motoring World International