Peugeot goes local

06 December 2018 | Business

President Hage Geingob yesterday inaugurated the assembly plant of the French carmaker PSA in Walvis Bay - and then test-drove a Peugeot 5008 assembled there.

“I'm thrilled,” he said when he got out of the vehicle.

For the president, yesterday's ceremony at the assembly plant was a milestone in the country's history: the investment in the automotive industry not only diversifies Namibia's economy, it also evoked some nostalgia in him.

“My first car I bought before independence in Zambia was an old Peugeot,” he said.

Currently three SUV models are being assembled at the Walvis Bay factory. The parts are imported.

The vehicles include two Peugeot models - the 3008 and 5008 – and the Opel Grandland X, said Emre Karaer, vice-president of Peugeot in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are grateful to our partner, the Namibia Development Corporation, for the realisation of this project,” he added.

According to Karaer, 15 vehicles have so far rolled off the assembly line - five of each of the three models.

“Our goal is to assemble 5 000 vehicles per year come 2020,” he said.

The PSA group intends to supply the entire southern Africa with cars assembled at Walvis Bay.

“We want to develop locally and also roll out locally produced cars as much as we can,” he said.

“These vehicles go through a rigorous testing process to guarantee all the safety and quality standards of PSA.”

The PSA group is a French multinational manufacturer and is ranked as one of the largest carmakers in the world. This was emphasised when Karaer mentioned a few figures: During the last financial year the PSA group produced 2.2 million vehicles and its revenue was 38.6 billion euros.

The Namibian facility has created 50 jobs - a pleasing figure, said Claire Bodonyi, the French ambassador to Namibia.

“Why was Namibia chosen? The reason is simple: one chooses a valuable partner,” she said.

According to her the assembly plant represents an investment of N$190 million.

President Geingob had a lot of praise yesterday: for the investment, the job creation and for finance minister Calle Schlettwein, who “went through hell to make this project happen”.

“The automotive industry is one of the sectors identified in our Growth at Home Strategy as a priority sector.

“We believe that by attracting investment in the automotive [sector], we will help diversify our economy and support our ambition to become a regional gateway that offers a stable political and economic environment for multinationals,” he said.

Geingob said the journey towards realising the project was full of challenges.

“There are a number of countries in the region that would have been happy to host this project, but the negotiations revealed the commitment of the Namibian government and Peugeot to make Namibia the preferred choice for this assembly plant,” he said.

The investment furthermore signifies “our intent to realise our own industrial revolution”.

This, according to Geingob, will be a revolution that will “enable us to provide work, a high standard of living, as well as security and prosperity for our people”.

ERWIN LEUSCHNER

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