The decision by a number of vehicle manufacturing and assembling companies to locate their activities in Ghana is clearly in response to the presence of factors such as political stability, peace, good governance, rule of law and a steady national economic growth under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo, among others.
Without the presence of such positive traits – being features of a democratic country – it will be difficult to attract any business entity to invest in an economy.
It is, therefore, understandable why many vehicle assembling companies are prepared to invest in the country.
Some of the automobile manufacturing companies that are ready to invest in Ghana are Volkswagen, Nissan, Suzuki, Toyota, CFAO, Renault and Sinotruk.
The President of the Republic has announced that a new policy is being developed, explaining that the operations of the companies in the country calls for a clear-cut policy to govern the automotive industry.
Towards this end, a number of measures have been taken to ensure that the policy becomes a reality within a short time. For this reason, a number of relevant organisations are feverishly taking steps to ensure that appropriate steps are put in place to effectively regulate the automotive industry.
It is important to note that Ghana's fleet of cars and other vehicles are dominated by vehicles of varying and uncertified standards. Indeed, over 70 per cent of passenger vehicles imported into the country are often found to be from five to twelve years old.
Currently, no homologation certification is required to establish or import a vehicle in Ghana. By homologation, we mean the process of certifying or approving a product to indicate that it meets regulatory standards and specifications such as safety and technical requirements.
Homologation certification, therefore, implies certifying locally assembled, as well as new and imported vehicles. What this implies is that there is the need to see to the transformation of the fleet of cars in the country to make them safe for use.
As part of measures to transform Ghana's vehicle fleet into a safe, modern and environmentally friendly vehicle fleet, compulsory vehicle standards will be required to ensure that all components and parts of vehicles meet the appropriate international standard and that their proper assembly and testing are confirmed before vehicle registration by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).
This will be based on homologation certificate from a recognised certification body.
Clearly, therefore, this will have some positive effects and leakages in the automobile value chain by allowing for asset-based vehicle finance and insurance. In addition, it will also have a positive effect on the industry and promote efficient distribution and aftermarket service network that will benefit all market players.
With time, it will help to face out older vehicles that are not energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
All these measures are being taken to ensure safety of road users, as well as vehicle owners by protecting them against vehicles that are not suited for the climatic and road conditions in Ghana.
In addition, this arrangement seeks to increase the overall level of security and protection from vehicle theft and cloning. The new scheme being introduced in Ghana is also meant to help local assemblers and importers to provide effective warranty and controlled guarantees.
In addition to all this, the interest of insurance and finance companies will also be protected.
This is because the scheme will help insurance and the finance industry to improve risk management and traceability for vehicles in Ghana. Again, there will be the need to cater for equipment fitment for older vehicles.
Thus, dealers and retailers will be able to provide suitable equipment fitment for older vehicles.
A number of draft standards have been prepared by the GSA as identical adoptions for Ghana by the National Technical Committee on Automobile Industry Standards (GSA/TC 05). Some of them are: GS 4003:2019 – Retro-Reflecting Devices; GS 4006:2019 – Direction Indicators; GS 4013:2019 – Braking; GS 4007:2019 – Front and Rear Position Lamps, Stop-lamps and End-outline Marker Lamps; and GS 4051:2019 Noise Emissions, among others.
These draft standards have been circulated for public comments before their finalisation and its gazette as National Standards. Copies can also be viewed on the GSA website.
The President's vision in encouraging automobile manufacturing companies to establish assembling plants in Ghana is, therefore, meant to implement an efficient Vehicle Marking System to positively identify vehicles throughout their lifespan and to limit loss of revenue, avoidance of taxes and duties, smuggling of vehicles, fraudulent transactions and also collusion between selfish, wicked and unscrupulous elements and those in licensing centres, among others.
With this arrangement, Ghana is moving forward to be at par with other serious-minded countries where adherence to vehicle standards, purchase and distribution has become the order of the day.
This is how, it must be emphasised, that government intends to sanitise and regularise the automotive industry in Ghana in line with acceptable international standard and best practice.