Ghanaians should expect the first-ever locally assembled Toyota car by August next year, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Tsusho Corporation, Ichiro Kashitani, has said.
Mr. Kashitani said this when he met the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in Japan.
The meeting which happened on Thursday, August 29 was to sign an MoU between the Government of Ghana and Toyota Tsusho Corporation for the establishment of a Toyota and Suzuki Assembly Plant in Ghana.
Thanking the government of President Akufo-Addo for its help and support towards the realisation of this project, Mr. Ichiro Kashitani stated that “we consider the project of the assembly plant a marriage. It lasts for life, and it is a long-term project.”
Imai Toshimitsu, Chief Operations Officer of the company in charge of the Africa division of Toyota Tsusho, speaking at the signing ceremony stated that the decision to set up in Ghana has been necessitated by the favourable economic climate prevailing in the country.
“We are willing to participate in the automotive industry in Ghana. I am very happy that we have reached the consensus and principal agreement to start the Toyota and Suzuki assembly plants. We are planning to kick-off the project immediately, and, hopefully, we will have the first car made in Ghana this time (August) next year,” he added.
Mr. Imai Toshimitsu stated that details of the work to be undertaken in Ghana, including the volumes and models of the vehicles to be produced, are contained in the MoU.
“The products to be assembled in Ghana include the Toyota Hilux pickup, which is already popular in Ghana. Since it will be locally produced, I hope it will be more popular. We are also planning to introduce small passenger cars, with two Suzuki brands,” the Toyota COO explained.
The decision to assemble Suzuki vehicles in Ghana, according to Mr. Imai Toshimitsu, follows the acquisition on Wednesday, August 28, of a 4.9% stake in Suzuki by Toyota Tsusho, thus making Toyota a “principal shareholder” in Suzuki.
“So, Suzuki products will be assembled and sold in Ghana. The cars which will be produced in Ghana are our core models for Africa and Ghana customers,” he stressed.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, President Akufo-Addo added that the MoU with Toyota Tsusho falls in line with the vision of making Ghana an automotive hub for West Africa and the larger African market.
With the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the President noted that “Ghana is the base to reach this larger African market”.
“We are attaching a great deal of importance to the initiative and development. We want to assure you that, whatever it is we can do on the side of the Ghana Government to provide you with the necessary support and assurance that the investment you are going to make in our country will be worth your while, you can count on us to do that,” he added.