Ramaphosa’s debate to help unlock Bay’s potential as Africa’s auto hub Ramaphosa’s debate to help unlock Bay’s potential as Africa’s auto hub
The President’s Debate panel discussion, which will take place at the Annual General Meeting of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber on 6 June... Ramaphosa’s debate to help unlock Bay’s potential as Africa’s auto hub

The President’s Debate panel discussion, which will take place at the Annual General Meeting of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber on 6 June 2024, promises to be a significant and insightful event, focusing on the potential of Nelson Mandela Bay as the automotive hub on the African continent.

The event will feature prominent business leaders, Martina Biene (President of AAAM and MD and Chairperson of Volkswagen Group Africa), Billy Tom (Naamsa President and President and CEO of Isuzu Motors South Africa) and Loyiso Dotwana (Chamber President and Executive Director of Nako Engineering). The discussion will delve into Metro’s potential as the automotive hub and explore some of the challenges that manufacturing in South Africa and the Metro faces. It will further probe potential actions that can be taken to unlock Bay’s potential to become the continent’s automotive and manufacturing hub. 

Notably, this is the first time that both the presidents of AAAM and Nacaam are from Nelson Mandela Bay-based companies.

The local automotive industry is a vital economic driver, representing 41% of auto manufacturing employment in South Africa. Volkswagen Group Africa, the largest manufacturer in the country, recently announced that it would be undertaking an R4 billion investment to produce a compact SUV, which holds a significant share of 24.3%. Almost half of the country’s automotive component manufacturers are in the Metro.  Additional investment in the local automotive sector is set to follow, with Stellantis establishing an R3 billion light commercial vehicle plant in the Bay.

The South African automotive industry is celebrating its centenary this year. The Metro has played an important role in this regard, with the first vehicle assembly manufacturing plant in the country being established here by the Ford Motor Company and two years later by General Motors. Volkswagen set up a manufacturing plant in the metro in 1951 to build the legendary Beetle.

“The upcoming debate marks an important moment for the Chamber, the Bay, and the country at large as the calibre of participants represents some of the leading organisations nationally in the coalface of the automotive sector. More importantly, the platform provides an opportunity for an open conversation about the challenges facing the automotive industry and how the private sector and government can collaborate to step up efforts to retain and attract investment and jobs,” says Denise van Huyssteen, Chamber’s Chief Executive.

The automotive sector is facing significant challenges as it navigates the complex path towards the assembly of new energy vehicles and rapid technological advancements, which are resulting in major global shifts in the automotive sector. South Africa faces the added challenges of adopting new energy vehicle technology due to infrastructure gaps, high re-engineering, and logistics costs.

Other critical issues include the reliability and quality of power supply and the general state of water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure.

“The current business environment is exceptionally tough, with challenges from all fronts. It is thus vital that all the stakeholders collaborate to quickly find solutions to these challenges and retain and grow the industrialisation and economic development of the country and our local economy, which is very much anchored by the manufacturing sector. As such, we see the President’s Debate delving deeper into these issues to explore viable solutions to cushion the industry against the radically changed operating environment and reorientate it towards a more agile, receptive and innovative growth trajectory,” says Van Huyssteen.  

Antoinette Panton

seers cmp badge

Join our newsletter mailing list

Want news and insights to help businesses respond to an ever-changing world?

Join our mailing list and have news across the entire higher education spectrum delivered to your inbox.

Sign up today