Ghana automobile industry trends: Business implications and opportunities
The Ghanaian automobile industry is still in its early stages of development compared to other developing countries on the African continent. Market for automobiles predominantly consists of newly assembled vehicles in Ghana and the importation of new cars, used vehicles and accident cars.
The automobile market is dominated by imported used cars and this trend is expected to continue, as many Ghanaians prefer to buy salvage cars due to affordability.
Major vehicle manufacturers are expanding their production facilities across the country, indicating that the market will likely grow significantly.
Kantanka Automobile is also a Ghanaian automobile manufacturer that designs, manufactures, and sells on and off-road vehicles in Ghana, West Africa.
The new assembly plants are expected to reduce used vehicle imports while increasing exports to the sub-region. The Ghanaian market is also expected to benefit directly from the new vehicles assembled.
Trends in the Ghana automobile industry
1. Government support
Ghana's automobile production industry receives adequate government support, allowing it to emerge as one of the 40 fastest-growing commercial productions in the world. Currently, the automobile industry accounts for a quarter of the country's GDP. According to a report made by Ghana Automobile Dealers Association, Ghana imports about 100,000 vehicles per year. About 90 per cent are used vehicles, with an estimated value of $1.14 billion annually.
The Government of Ghana is taking steps to support the growth of the automobile industry. In 2019, the government announced a new policy to ban the importation of cars older than 10 years. The aim of this policy is to boost local production and create jobs in the sector. The government has also introduced tax incentives to attract investment in the industry.
2. Increase in local production
Currently, there are about seven automobile companies assembling vehicles in Ghana with the latest being the ultra-modern KIA vehicle plant established by Rana Motors and Metal Works Engineering Company Limited. With the exception of the Kantanka Automobile Company & Assembly Plant, which is owned by the renowned Apostle Kwadwo Safo, all the other companies are foreign companies that have decided to establish facilities in Ghana to help grow the local automobile industry.
On the flip side, Ghana has one of the highest percentages of imported cars in the world. Though the duty on some of the cars are relatively high, some importers find it very inexpensive as compared to the new ones they will purchase in Ghana. Gradually, Ghanaians are showing interest in locally assembled vehicles. The government appears to be committed to further developing the automobile industry as well.
3. Growth in electric vehicles
The growth of electric vehicles in Ghana is still in its early stages, with limited adoption and infrastructure. However, there are signs of increasing interest in electric vehicles in the country.
In 2020, Ghana's Ministry of Energy announced plans to develop an electric vehicle policy to support the growth of the electric vehicle industry in the country. The policy aims to increase the adoption of electric vehicles in the country by promoting the development of charging infrastructure, providing incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles, and supporting local manufacturing of electric vehicles.
There are a few electric vehicle models available in Ghana, such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and the BMW i3. However, these vehicles are relatively expensive and are mostly imported.
To encourage the growth of the electric vehicle industry in Ghana, the government is exploring partnerships with international companies to establish local manufacturing facilities for electric vehicles and related components.
Business implications and opportunities
1. Increased Demand for Auto Parts
The growth of the automobile industry in Ghana presents an opportunity for companies that manufacture and supply auto parts. As the local production of vehicles increases, the demand for locally produced auto parts will be expected to increase. This presents a significant opportunity for companies that are looking to expand their operations in Ghana. The supply of parts, completely knocked-down kits (CKDs), and batteries to indigenous firms presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs as Ghana remains a key importer of CKDs for internal combustion engine automobiles (International Trade Administration, 2023)
2. Investment in manufacturing or assembly plants
Building automobile assembly plants in Ghana could be a promising opportunity for several reasons. Firstly, Ghana has a growing economy and a stable political environment, which can attract foreign investment. Additionally, Ghana has a large population and a growing middle class, which may lead to an increase in demand for cars. By 2050, Ghana's national goal is to have 32 per cent, or 12,027 electric public buses in operation. In the short term (subject to Ghana's current fiscal restrictions), the government plans on deploying 1,000 electric buses, as well as associated charging and maintenance infrastructure, for intra-city (40 per cent) and intercity (60 per cent) transportation services. This includes 500 Complete Built Unit (CBU) electric buses and 500 Semi-Knocked-Down (SKD) buses, which it hopes to assemble in Ghana, in collaboration with local assemblers (International Trade Administration, 2023).
However, before any potential investor will make any investment decision, it's important to consider the challenges and risks involved. For instance, the cost of building an assembly plant can be quite high, and the return on investment may take several years. The lack of skilled labour and inadequate infrastructure can also be a significant challenge for manufacturing operations in Ghana.
3. Sustainable transportation
The world is currently growing to become eco-friendly with the underlining goal of drastically reducing carbon emissions in addressing global conversations about climate change issues (Zhenmin, 2022). Electric cars, buses, and bicycles are becoming increasingly popular as they emit zero emissions during their use, hence the promotion of sustainable transportation. This mode of transportation has a lower impact on the environment and are economically and socially viable in the long run. The growth in electric vehicles presents an opportunity for companies that specialise in the production and distribution of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. As the demand for electric vehicles increases, companies that invest in this sector are likely to benefit from the growing market.
Ghana’s production industry has received proper aid from the local authorities, which has enabled it to emerge as one of the 40 quickest-growing commercial productions globally. Ghana is likely to overtake Nigeria to become the gateway to the rest of West Africa as a market leader in new car sales when the abolition of the trade barriers under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) takes place.
The future of Ghana in the automobile industry will be the introduction of extensive infrastructural development of electric vehicles, an increase in the supply of locally assembled vehicles, and the development of schemes by the financial sector to provide financing opportunities for Ghanaians to buy these new cars.
It will be challenging to potential investors and the government as well, if all efforts to make the Ghanaian market lucrative for foreign automobile companies to set up assembly plants are met by low patronage.
The writers are Consumer Industry Leader; Senior Manager Consumer Industry, & Manger Consumer Industry, Deloitte Ghana respectively