Windhoek — The planned multi-million-dollar Opel and Peugeot vehicle assembly plant in Namibia has been in the pipeline for at least four years and was driven by Namibia's embassy in Paris under the leadership of Ambassador Frieda Nangula-Ithete.
The plant, which aims to produce the full range of Opel and Peugeot SUV vehicles, also received tremendous
support from then Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Calle Schlettwein.
The landmark deal between Namibia and Groupe PSA is estimated at N$190 million, with investment in the assembly plant expected to be in the region of N$50 million, with the buildings and land in the project making up the remaining N$140 million.
The assembly plant at Walvis Bay is expected to initially produce about 5,000 vehicles annually for the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) market. This would significantly support Groupe PSA's ambitions to expand into the African and Middle East markets where they plan to sell a million vehicles by 2025. Namibia will hold 51 percent equity in the venture and Groupe PSA will have 49 percent.
Responding to questions from New Era, Ambassador Nangula-Ithete confirmed the establishment of the PSA Peugeot assembly plant was initiated by the Namibian embassy in Paris, as one of the possibilities to contribute to the government's strategy for the development of the manufacturing sector in view of creating employment and the development of skills in the country.
"The idea was brought forth towards the end of 2014 with the initial communication with the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development. It was received positively and wholeheartedly supported by the former Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Hon. Calle Schlettwein. Right from the beginning the embassy thought of the strategic area of Walvis Bay for the setting up of the assembly plant because of the existing infrastructure, notably the deep-water port and all its industrial facilities, enabling worldwide shipments and railway transport of goods in all SADC countries," explained the ambassador.
In February 2015 PSA Peugeot Citroen confirmed the interest of their group to consider the possibilities of extending their activities to Namibia.
"The first constructive discussion between the Namibian delegation and Peugeot's executives, leading to the signing of the joint venture on Monday 12 March 2018, took place at the PSA Peugeot headquarters, Paris, on 23rd of February 2015. It was followed by the visit of the Namibian delegation to PSA Peugeot manufacturing plant in Poissy, in the vicinity of Paris. Two weeks later the parties signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)," said Nangula-Ithete.
He added that from thereon, the follow-up discussions for the project implementation were pursued at a very technical, and the highest, level of the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
This resulted in the representatives of PSA Peugeot making several visits to Namibia to pursue their negotiations with their Namibian counterparts and visit the potential sites for setting up the assembly plant.
"The prospect for the project implementation reached its climax in November 2016 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Namibia, represented by the Minister of Finance, Hon. Calle Schlettwein, and PSA Peugeot Citroen executives during the last visit to France of the President of the Republic of Namibia, His Excellency Hage Geingob. All along, the embassy has followed up the process and intervened when necessary to ensure the smooth development of the negotiations," Nangula-Ithete stated.