The cream of Nissan’s National Sales Companies (NSCs) across the continent are eagerly looking forward to the weekend of 24 June, when they will be attending the first ever continental Ignition Awards, which will take place at The Cascades Golf Resort on the banks of the Red Sea in Somabay, Egypt.
It’s the first event of its kind to be held by Nissan Africa post COVID-19, the first to be held in Egypt and the very first to be held to include Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
The flagship awards will be the culmination of the Nissan Africa Conference 2022. The conference had initially been scheduled to be held in South Africa but the decision was taken to host it in Egypt instead, says Nissan Africa Managing Director Mike Whitfield, to leverage the company’s uniquely African footprint of being the only OEM on the continent to have head office facilities in both Egypt and South Africa.
“The business unit was created in December 2020 precisely to maximise the opportunities that Africa has for us as automotive manufacturers and dealers, while giving us the chance to incubate and develop the incredible African talent we have in country,” says Whitfield.
Nissan Africa allows to give individual attention to the markets it serves across 54 different countries. It does this without having to sustain full in country teams, but rather doing it through regional general managers for east, southern and west Africa, with country directors in South Africa and Egypt, fully supported by Nissan Africa back office and specialist departments in Cairo and Pretoria, explains Nissan Africa managing director Mike Whitfield.
“As the two-year lockdowns necessitated by the pandemic began to lift, we thought this was an opportune time to celebrate the people who make this company what it is and the African Dealer of the Year award is a wonderful showcase to do just that – not just to the broader Nissan family but to the continent too.
“It’s also a wonderful opportunity to introduce the Nissan Africa family to the wonders of Egypt, where we are uniquely the only OEM with a manufacturing plant in the country , producing both the Sentra and the Sunny, which has topped the charts as the best-selling passenger car in the country for 2020 and 2021.”
Africa is the last automotive frontier in the world, with the lowest global automotive ownership rate, but the fastest growing population. This comes into even sharper relief when compared with India which has much the same population as the entire African continent as well as GDP, yet sells three times more vehicles than Africa, says Whitfield.
The company, he says, has been buoyed by the market response across Africa following the launch of the all new built of more Nissan Navara family of pick-ups, which is now being produced in Africa for Africa by Africans at its LCV manufacturing hub in Rosslyn, South Africa and now assembled at a brand new state-of-the art plant in Tema, Ghana.
“Last year we had an incredibly successful launch of the Qashqai in Egypt, and we are looking forward to a similar response as we roll it out in both the ICE (conventional internal combustion engine) and our revolutionary e-Power option across Africa.
“These are very exciting times for us as we look to seize the opportunities that the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in January presents for us as we look to do our very best to make the dream of the African Century a reality by creating a business unit that truly is focussed on a bigger, better Africa,” he says.