The automobile sector of Ghana has been a driver of growth of the country as it is one of the most visible sectors to receive foreign investment. Ghana is a multicultural and ethnically diverse West African nation and is the 9th largest African economy.
On the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Ghana ranks as the 7th best economy in Africa, which implies a relative safety of foreign investment in the region. Also, Ghana ranks relatively high in the ease of doing business index and also has an extremely high freedom of press rating, which makes it a good emerging market to invest in.
Some of the popular car brands in the region are Toyota, Mercedes Benz, Mitsubishi, KIA, Nissan, Hyundai Volkswagen, Renault among others.
Ghana’s manufacturing industry gets good support from the local government which has enabled it to become one of the 40 fastest growing industrial productions in the world. Industry currently accounts for a quarter of the GDP but by 2021 it is expected to account for at least 30% of the GDP and the main driver for the growth will be the automobile industry.
Auto parts industry
The African auto parts market for passenger vehicles is emerging as one of the most important re-export markets, growing more than 11 per cent year-on-year, and estimated to be worth US$7.68 billion in 2013 and based on the double-digit growth of demand in key Sub-Saharan countries, the value of the Africa’s auto parts market is likely to double by 2020.
Countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, have witnessed double digit growth in demand of parts in the past five years.Focusing on the tremendous opportunities of doing business in the fast-emerging African market, there are currently more than 21.6 million cars on the continent’s roads which make up for nearly 70 per cent of spare parts consumption.
There are five modes of automobile service business in Ghana, these are :
- New car dealers
- Independent garages/shops
- Specialty garages /shops
- Service stations or garages
- Fleet garages /shop
However, the region still has its challenges. The African market is unstructured and the share of non-genuine parts is the biggest challenge to the automotive aftermarket in this region. Political issues, credit policies, and business sustainability related issues also impact the market, but these are mostly limited to Central Africa. Despite this the future outlook remained bright for those exporting to Africa, with the best opportunities existing in Kenya, Angola, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana.
In any properly controlled economy, necessary agencies are put in place by the government to regulate the importation, sales and use of such products as important as an automobile. Sadly enough, this has not been the case with Ghana where there are many grey importers who knowingly or unknowingly would bring in vehicles that are neither environmentally conducive nor mechanically compliant.
This definitely is an anathema that impedes national development. For example:
• These grey imports make it impossible to render accurate sales figures hence the inability of economic planners to have the appropriate statistical figures to help plot growth in the sub-sector.
• In views of this negative practice in the Ghanaian auto-market, the inherent results are environmental pollution with its health hazards and accidents.
• Currently, this grey market is forming a significant part of the auto market that is fiercely competing against genuine products for sub-Saharan Africa with some manufactured in South Africa.
The situation has established a very strong challenge for the organized and genuine auto market brand builders who invest their monies in the business for long term gain. The peculiar attractions based on opulence and hi-tech features take vast range of attentions comes with loads of problems when imported into the tropical zones like Ghana.
• Instead of desired values, users have to grapple with increasing stress levels involved in the usage of the grey imported cars.
• Due to the quality of these grey imports, the maintenance cost is usually very high, thereby creating financial nightmares for users. And a disturbing aspect is the distrust which customers develop for the genuine brand holders, thereby affecting the economic fortunes of the authentic auto brand builders.
Most people we interviewed prefer to buy grey imported cars than the ones from the authorized dealers. They agreed that authorized dealers offer reliable cars with the best in-class services and warranty, but it comes with a price which is too huge for their pockets to bear. If they consider to acquire new cars from the authorized dealers, price, interest rate and terms of repayment are the major factors that discourage them.
Used engines are in great demand in many African countries which have a big market for re-conditioned automobiles. Most of the African buyers have substantial requirements for quantities of automotive batteries, tyres, spare parts, ball bearings, water pumps and a host of electronic goods. People prefer buying used spare parts because they are genuine and are often in good condition. Every spare parts outlet may not provide the full range of used parts of all car models but together the market is capable of providing nearly 90 per cent of such parts.
The diversified range of used mechanical and body parts of cars and engines has brought this business parallel to genuine and non-genuine new spare parts businesses as it offers big variety at affordable prices. There has been an increasing demand for automobile spares, ball bearings and lubricants in the fast developing markets of Africa.
The rapid growth of the middle class in many African countries has pushed demand for automobiles to an all-time high – in turn creating a growing market for all kinds of tyres: passenger car tyres, off-the-road tyres, industrial tyres, agricultural tyres, truck, bus and trailer tyres as well as motorcycle and bicycle tyres.
The rising demand for tyres in Africa has led to stiff competition between tyre manufacturers from all across the world seeking to garner a major share of the market for tyres in the new and emerging African markets. Traditionally, European tyre manufactures had had a monopoly over the African markets and many European brands were top selling tyres in many African countries.
However, in recent times, European tyre firms are beginning to lose ground to Chinese and other Asian brands in several African markets. The African count
ries are price-sensitive markets and prefer to import low-priced Chinese tyres rather than the expensive European and American brands. There is an equally strong market for sale and importation of used tyres in this region. Apart from Dunlop International the other three significant players in the African market for tyres are Continental, Bridgestone and Goodyear.
Currently most of the consumers in the automobile segment belong to the affluent class hence the automobile industry inGhana presents massive opportunities for the future as the burgeoning middle class is largely untapped in the country. One of the major problems with Ghana that has been impeding the growth of the automobile sector is the lack of financial inclusion in the country. Most people do not have access to financial loans and other options like lease that make owning an automobile easy.
While the global automotive industry is fiercely competitive, there are other factors that limit or even distort trade. For decades, various governments around the world have used trade distorting policies to support the creation and expansion of domestic automotive industries that were not otherwise economically feasible. This has been accomplished through combinations of subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
The market for automobile spare parts, in particular, has been an attractive sector for enterprises supplying these goods to many countries in Africa. The rapid industrialisation currently sweeping across many African countries has resulted in an increased demand for capital goods such as machinery, lubricants, spare parts, ball bearings and other mechanical accessories.