Ghanaian carmaker, Kantanka Automobile Company’s determination to produce commercial quantities of cars received government backing last week after the country’s vice president bought three of the company’s vehicles to add to the president’s office vehicle fleet.
Vice president Kwesi Amissah-Arthur took delivery of two Kantanka Onantefuo 4X4 vehicles after touring the company’s plant site in Gomoa Mpota – a community in the central region – and said he will take the remaining one at a later date.
“They compete favourably with the imported ones, they are also cheaper and there’s local availability of parts and expertise to fix them if there are any problems,” he said.
“It is consistent with this government to support domestic enterprises, so it was on that basis that we decided to acquire a few of them for use at my office.”
The Kantanka Assembly plant, a sophisticated automobile plant, is capable of churning out between 80 and 200 vehicles per month.
The numbers are expected to grow in response to global market trends and demand.
Following years of rigorous research and tests to produce locally-made cars, the company said, it was now determined to join the global automobile market with strong, robust, durable and reliable cars.
But many believe winning local consumers taste for made-in-Ghana products, including cars, remained a huge hurdle that the company will have to clear.
Kantanka Automobile Limited chief executive office, Kwadwo Safo Jnr, told local media that the vice president’s gesture showed confidence in the car manufacturer and “speaks volumes for the work we do and what a good job we do at making these vehicles strong for use”.
“So far, I can tell you he [Amissah-Arthur] is impressed with the vehicles and so we will continue to do what we do to make everyone proud,” he said.
The vice president’s move is seen as an endorsement of the automobile company and will boost it, while giving meaning to the country’s campaign for patronising local products in order to boost jobs and control rising import bills.
It was also described as laudable and refreshing, as symbolised government’s commitment to actualise its made-in-Ghana campaign.
Amissah-Arthur had posted on his facebook wall in May 2016 saying “when I met car maker Kwadwo Safo today, I told him that I am expecting to take delivery of three of his vehicles that I have placed an order for”.
The company presented a brand new locally-manufactured vehicle to the Ghana Police Service in March 2015.
The Kantanka brand is seen as a first step for Ghana and Africa to participate in the global automotive industry, as manufacturers rather than consumer and after-sales-service providers.
The company’s founder, Kwadwo Sarfo, manufactured the first Kantanka Saloon in 1998 and a cross-country four-wheel drive, the Kantanka Onantefo I, in 2006, and has since manufactured a series of brands, including a four-seat jet.
According to the World Bank, private consumption in Sub Sahara Africa is to remain strong in 2015 to 2017, particularly with Africa’s burgeoning middle class looking to splurge on new passenger vehicles and for most, their first such purchase.
Last year, Africa was projected to see sales of 2 million new cars, with major auto players looking at the continent for growth opportunities.
About 21.6 million passenger vehicles are projected to be operating in Africa – making the continent’s nearly 1.2 billion population, an attractive prospect for global automobile manufacturers to penetrate.