Automotive: Morocco still the African leader in the passenger car segment ahead of South Africa

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#Morocco : According to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), in 2021, around one million vehicles were produced in Africa. South Africa and Morocco provide more than 90% of this production and the kingdom remains the continent’s leading passenger car manufacturer.

Despite the announcement effects and the inauguration of small assembly units in some African countries, automobile production is not taking off in Africa. Thus, according to data from the International Organization of Automobile Manufacturers (OICA), for the 2021 financial year, for a world production of 39 automaker countries amounting to 80.14 million vehicles, largely dominated by Asians (46.73 million units), Africa’s share is only 931,056 units, representing a market share of 1.16%.

This means that despite representing 17% of the world’s population, Africa hardly figures on the world car manufacturing scene, with the exception, however, of two countries: South Africa and Morocco. Indeed, according to OICA data, these two countries produce almost all the vehicles built in Africa in 2021, a year marked, it is true, by the health crisis which has plagued some small producers on the continent due in particular to the obstacles related to health restrictions.
Nevertheless, according to OICA data, the four African countries listed by the organization – South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Algeria – produced a total of 931,056 units.

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South Africa is the leading producer of vehicles on the continent with 499,087 units assembled in 2021, compared to 447,213 units in 2020 and 631,921 units in 2019. A drop which is mainly explained by the effects of the pandemic Covid-19 over the past two years which has impacted the South African automotive sector. The country being the most affected by the pandemic on the African continent.

In detail, South African production consists of 239,267 passenger car units and 259,820 utility and industrial vehicles.

South Africa, which hosted its first car assembly line in 1924, has many establishments of majors in the global car manufacturing sector. The country has a dozen manufacturers including BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Isuzu, Renault-Nissan, Man, Tata, DAF Trucks, FAW,…

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However, local South African production, which has been impacted by the pandemic over the past two years, is suffering from several ills: power cuts, economic crisis, competition from small assembly units in Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, Rwanda ,…), distance from major markets (United States, Europe,..),…

Behind South Africa follows Morocco with 403,007 units produced in 2021, a volume up 23% compared to the previous year. In detail, Moroccan production includes 338,339 passenger vehicles and 64,668 utility vehicles. Thus, the kingdom largely retains its position as the African leader in the construction of private vehicles ahead of South Africa (239,267 units). Leader in this segment since 2017, the gap in the production of passenger cars should widen further with the increase in production at the PSA plant. It suffered from the health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic which affected the global automotive sector.

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Yet unlike South Africa, Morocco has only two established global automakers. These are the French groups, Renault, in Tangier and PSA, in Kenitra. The Renault Tangier factory in Melloussa is the largest automobile factory in Africa with a capacity of 340,000 units per year. With the Renault units in Tangier and Casablanca (Somaca) and the PSA unit in Kenitra, Morocco has an installed production capacity of more than 650,000 units per year.

The Moroccan automotive industry enjoys many advantages: the existence of an automotive ecosystem with more than 350 equipment manufacturers, suppliers and subcontractors, geographical proximity to the European market, the existence of vocational training centers, political stability and economic, the existence of quality infrastructure (Tangier Med port, railway, highways, etc.), tax incentives and benefits offered to investors, etc.

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For the years to come, the Moroccan authorities aim to reach 1 million units produced on Moroccan soil by attracting new manufacturers. Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, Volkswagen and Chinese manufacturers are targeted.

Far behind South Africa and Morocco, the other African car manufacturers are still dwarfs, even if there is a willingness on the part of many countries on the continent to integrate the sector.

Thus, according to data from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, Egypt ranks 3rd among automobile producers on the continent, with, however, a low production of only 23,754 vehicles produced in 2021. However, many manufacturers are established in the country: BMW, General Motors, JAC, PSA, Deawoo, Ford,… And the country has about twenty assembly units with a cumulative annual production capacity of 300,000 units and some 300 suppliers of automotive components and subcontractors. However, car production does not follow.

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The country is failing to exploit its enormous potential. Several automotive construction projects have been announced in recent years. In 2019, the Japanese company Nissan and the car manufacturer El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing signed an agreement with the aim of producing 100,000 vehicles per year. In 2021, El Nasr also announced the production of electric vehicles, on a large scale, from August 2022, in partnership with the Chinese company Dongfeng Motors Corporation. This unit is supposed to start in August 2022 with an initial production of 50,000 units per year. These vehicles should gradually replace conventional taxis in large cities and reduce pollution.

Finally, for Algeria, automobile production was only 5,208 units in 2021. A volume alone attesting to the fiasco of the country’s automobile industry, which has almost stopped since the end of 2019.

Several car assembly units have been closed (Volkswagen Kia, etc.) due to a lack of possibilities to import car kits. Others are at a standstill because of the arrest of their mentors imprisoned in the context of the lawsuits brought against the oligarchs close to the former Bouteflika regime.

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As a result, production, which had reached 180,000 units in 2018, fell to 60,012 units in 2019, falling to 754 units in 2020, before rising to 5,208 units in 2021, under the effects of the policies of the leaders who put an end to the assembly masquerade with imported car kits. Indeed, some automotive assembly units imported fully assembled cars, which sometimes only lacked the wheels to be fitted in Algeria and therefore without any local added value. Only, since the end of 2019, no credible alternative has been offered to the automotive assembly sector. And all the units are stopped, except that of Renault Production Algérie currently operating in slowed down mode.

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Apart from these 4 countries, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia, Côte d’Ivoire, etc., have embarked on automobile assembly. Production remains globally insignificant. The health crisis has had a major impact on the sector. However, Nigerian production could increase sharply from this year with the entry of Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, into the car assembly sector.

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