The President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Tsusho Corporation, Ichiro Kashitani, has promised to outdoor the company's first vehicle to be assembled in Ghana by August 2020.
Mr. Ichiro Kashitani, who expressed gratitude to the Ghana Government for the tremendous help and support towards the realisation of the project, said "we consider the project of the assembly plant a marriage. It lasts for life and it is a long-term project."
Mr. Kashitani made this known on Thursday when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo witnessed the signing in Tokyo, Japan, of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Ghana and the TTC for the establishment of a Toyota and Suzuki Assembly Plant in Ghana.
The Chief Operations Officer of the company in charge of the Africa division of Toyota Tsusho, Mr. Imai Toshimitsu, who was also at the meeting, said the decision to set up an assembly plant in Ghana had 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. Thank you very much for your support," he added.
Mr. Toshimitsu stated that details of the work to be undertaken in Ghana, including the volumes and models of the vehicles to be produced, were 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. Toshimitsu, follows the acquisition on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 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.
On his part, President Akufo-Addo stated that the signing of 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".
He continued, "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."
It will be recalled that, in March this year, officials from Toyota Tsusho Corporation, Suzuki Motor Corporation and CFAO announced a joint venture arrangement to assemble and distribute vehicles in Ghana.
During a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo, on Tuesday, 19th March, 2019, at Jubilee House, Mr. Koyote Suzuki, General Manager for the Middle East and Africa of Suzuki Motor Corporation, told President Akufo-Addo that "our next phase of growth will come from Africa, but we need to find the right partner in Africa for manufacturing and distribution after sale of our vehicles."
He stated that "we came to know from Toyota that the Ghanaian government is planning to roll out a new automotive policy. We heard this from Toyota executives who paid a visit here last month. We are highly interested in participating in this initiative by the Ghanaian government. We wish to start production here, grow it and expand it."
Mr. Masafumi Yamashita, from Toyota Tsusho Corporation, in his remarks, noted that Toyota Corporation and CFAO have the largest automotive distribution network in Africa, and have the ambition to contribute to and support further development in African countries.
"Our vision is with Africa and for Africa. This time, we commit to working together with Suzuki Motor Corporation for the future development of the automotive industry here in Africa, as a strategic partner," he added.