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African Association of Automotive Manufacturers gets new President

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Unnamed
Martina Biene

Martina Biene, Volkswagen Group South Africa’s (VWSA) Chairperson and Managing Director takes over as President of the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) from Mike Whitfield who has been President since July 2020. Mike will remain on the Executive of AAAM as the Immediate Past President.

The AAAM was established in November 2015 with Jeff Nemeth from Ford as the first President and Mike Whitfield as the Vice President. It is the only African body focusing on the expansion and deepening of the automotive industry across the continent, by working with governments to shape policies that will attract investors to unlock the economic potential of the continent and align a global network of stakeholders, committed to the development of the Automotive industry in Africa.

During Mike’s tenure at AAAM, a Continental Automotive Strategy and Implementation Plan was developed in conjunction with the AfCFTA Secretariat, Africa Union (AU), UNECA, Afreximbank and ARSO and this was adopted as a living document by the AfCFTA Council of Ministers at a meeting in Botswana in February 2023. An AfCFTA Automotive Task Force has been formed to oversee, guide and implement this Strategy under the supervision of the Council of Ministers with the immediate priority to resolve the Rules of Origin.

AAAM’s role and importance in developing the automotive industry has also been recognised by the private sector which has resulted in AAAM’s membership growing from some 17 members in 2020 to the current 63 members.

Martina Biene, Chairperson and Managing Director of VWSA, who is also responsible for the Africa Region, has over 20 years of experience in the automotive industry having joined Volkswagen in 2001 where she held multiple roles in the company in Sales, Marketing, Product Planning and Product Marketing for Luxury Vehicles and the Volkswagen Brand in Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and South Africa.

In 2018 she was appointed as the head of the Volkswagen Brand in South Africa whereafter she returned to Germany in 2020 to take up the position of Head of Small and Compact Vehicle line up, returning to South Africa in November 2022 to take up her current position.

“I became passionate about Africa after completing an internship in Cape Town before joining Volkswagen in Germany. My career has allowed me to return to Africa to help with the industrialisation of Africa through the automotive industry which will help to create opportunities and sustainable jobs. I am thankful for the work that Mike and the AAAM team have done to date and I am humbled to be able to play a key role through AAAM to grow the automotive manufacturing industry from the 1.1 million vehicles a year today to some 3.5 million or even 5 million by 2035.” said Biene after being voted into her new position by the voting the members of AAAM.

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