The seventh edition of the Tokyo International Conference for Africa’s Development (TICAD7) drew to a close yesterday and some of the 32 African leaders who made the trip to Yokohama, Japan, will certainly be returning to their countries more satisfied than others.
The President of Ghana and the Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire will certainly be amongst the satisfied ones as both leaders were able to snap up deals that could transform their respective countries into automotive technology hubs in the near future.
This is because both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire reached agreements with world-renowned automobile manufacturer, Toyota Motors Corporation, to site its vehicle assembly plants in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Plans were concluded after Toyota signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with authorities of these two West African nations.
Ichiro Kashitani, President and CEO of Toyota Tsusho Corporation — the trading arm of the Toyota Group — first announced the company’s intention to start assembling its vehicles in Ghana from August 2020 on Thursday.
Following that, the Ivorien government said it signed an agreement on Thursday with Toyota to build a vehicle assembly plant in the country.
The office of the Ivorien Prime Minister disclosed in a statement that the agreement was signed at the Japan-Africa development conference in Yokohama, Japan, by Prime Minister, Gon Coulibaly, and Ichiro Kashitani, CEO of Toyota Tsusho, a unit of the automotive and industrial group.
Although the statement did not give details on the number or type of vehicles to be produced in Ivory Coast by Toyota, there’s reason to believe that the process for establishing the auto plant will be launched before the end of the year.
Also, Toyota’s CEO, Kashitani, while speaking at the Thursday signing of a similar MoU with the Ghanaian authorities, enthused that the establishment of a Toyota and Suzuki assembly plant in the country is akin to a marriage that will last a lifetime, suggesting that both parties are in it for the long haul.
In his response with regards to the development, Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, said he signed the MoU with Toyota Tsusho in line with the vision of making Ghana an automotive hub for West Africa and the larger African market.
According to President Akufo-Addo, with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ghana is the base to reach the larger African market and his administration is poised to put the country in a strong position in that regard.