By Moses Akaigwe, 08111813034
The first Nissan Navara vehicles to be manufactured in Africa by Africans have begun rolling off the Nissan manufacturing production facility in Rosslyn on their way to South Africa and the rest of the continent, including Nigeria where the brand is represented by Stallion Nissan Motors Nigeria Ltd.
The official start of production (SOP) was witnessed by Mike Whitfield, Africa Regional Business Unit managing director; Kabelo Rabotho, Nissan South Africa Country Director; Shafick Solomons, Nissan South Africa Plant Director; and a group of Nissan employees due to COVID-19 regulations, as the rest of the company celebrated the milestone virtually.
“This is a significant day for Nissan continentally,” said Whitfield. “Three years ago, Nissan South Africa had the privilege of answering President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘Thuma mina’ call on behalf of Nissan, by pledging R3 billion towards his appeal to rebuild South Africa. Today we are meeting that commitment, vehicles made in Africa for Africa going out into the market.”
Rabotho said that COVID-19 had been a major disruption worldwide, but Nissan South Africa employees had been more than up for the challenge.
“I would like to say how immensely proud I am of the committed men and women who endured many challenges under unprecedented conditions to locally produce the Navara in our world-class production facility.”
Solomons agreed: “Our team has been incredible and agile.”
For Solomons, the first vehicle rolling off the production line is the culmination of an intense period of upskilling and training of South African staff to meet and exceed Nissan’s exacting global quality standards, while making Rosslyn the Japanese automaker’s light commercial vehicle manufacturing hub for the continent.
“This first Navara built in our Rosslyn plant for the African market is a significant milestone in the Navara journey, which has been unfolding for a number of years. It speaks to the long-term commitment of Nissan Motor Limited to Africa together with the many men and women who have worked passionately on the project, ensuring that we build the iconic Navara for the African market within Nissan’s global quality standards.”
A week ago, Nissan had the privilege of graduating 12 Ghanaian engineers who have returned to their own country to start setting up Nissan’s first assembly plant in the West African country next year.
“From a people perspective, it has been very fulfilling and motivational to share our skills and our capabilities across the African continent. There are a lot of positives that come out of this process for us and for Africa,” Solomons continued. “It’s important that we develop this relationship and continue to be seen as one of the leaders in Africa, for Africa.”
Rabotho agreed: “At Nissan South Africa, we understand that our organisational growth is closely tied to that of the community we operate in. Through the Navara, we expect to continue to redefine the light commercial vehicle segment whilst contributing positively to the South African economy.”
The all-New Nissan Navara will be launched in Nigeria through Stallion NMN Ltd, the Nissan Sales and Service Centre in the country.