Driving Innovation: The Rise of African Car Makers
“”Black Wall St. MediaContributor
When one thinks of the global automotive industry, Africa may not be the first region that comes to mind.
However, a quiet revolution is taking place as African car makers are emerging with innovative solutions, challenging traditional notions, and reshaping the narrative of the continent’s automotive landscape.
These homegrown manufacturers are defying odds, driving economic growth, and capturing the world’s attention with their unique designs, sustainable practices, and commitment to local empowerment.
In this article, we will delve into the rise of African car makers, their impact on the industry, and the potential they hold for a thriving automotive sector in Africa.
We’ve all heard a lot about American, European, and Asian vehicles, but what about African manufacturers and models? Believe it or not, Africa has quite a few car manufacturers, and many of them are doing quite well for themselves.
From Algeria to Zimbabwe, African automotive companies provide vehicles for cities and villages all over this beautiful continent. Let’s first take a look at some of the best, shall we?
SNVI is a vehicle manufacturing company that is based in Algeria. If you ride a bus around there, it’s probably built by SNVI. It has produced trucks and buses for the country (and beyond) since 1967. SNVI is actually a subsidiary of SONACOME, also called the National Mechanical Construction Company. Sonacome was founded by the Algerian government in 1967 and inherited French-era’s Berliet factories and equipment after Berliet stopped operations in 1973. SNVI is still up and going strong as of today and makes many high-quality buses and work trucks.
Egy-Tech Engineering is a car manufacturer based in Cairo, Egypt. It specializes in building three-wheeled vehicles in the smaller class of “city cars and auto rickshaws”. The company was founded in 1997 and some of its projects include the Micro and the Maestro. In 2017, the company unveiled its new electric tuk-tuk – a fully electric car that hopes to be a replacement for the rickshaw that currently dominates the busy streets of Egypt’s cities.
Kantanka Automobile is a Ghana-based automotive company that builds luxury cars. It was established in 1994 by entrepreneur and preacher, Kwadwo Safo Kantanka. In 1998, it came out with its first vehicle. It was locally manufactured using over 75-percent of local components, including the engine block. In 2006, the company launched its first SUV – the Onantefo.
Laraki Automobiles SA is a Moroccan-based manufacturing company that develops and builds high-performance sports cars. It is based in Casablanca, Morocco. Laraki was established in 1999 by Abdesslam Laraki. He was a Moroccan designer and entrepreneur who gained his wealth by importing cars into Morocco beginning in 1973. His son – Abdeslam Laraki – later took over the company. He became a designer like his father and started out creating luxurious yachts. He also gave the company its name we know today – Laraki. Following the steps of his father, he went to Switzerland to major in automobile design. Soon after he launched his first model, the Laraki Fulgura, in 2002.
Mobius Motors is a vehicle company founded in 2010 in the African country of Kenya. It was incorporated in the United Kingdom in 2010 and registered in Kenya in 2011. In 2018, the company began building its first in-country manufacturing plant. Mobius specializes in manufacturing tough SUVs that can handle bumpy roads and off-road areas with ease. This is because Kenya is home to many rough roads and rugged terrain that are part of the regional countryside.
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) is a Nigerian automobile manufacturer that is headquartered in Nnewi, Anambra, Nigeria. It was founded by a local chief by the name of Innocent Chukwuma Nwala. IVM has earned the nickname of the “Pride Of African Road”. The company claims that 70-percent of its car parts are produced locally, while the rest are sourced from Japan, China, and Germany. It produces a wide range of vehicles, from its three-wheeled “Keke”, which is the main source of transportation in Nigeria, to its wide assortment of other vehicles ranging from minivans to pickup trucks.
Here we have an interesting little company that only makes one car. Based in South Africa, the Birkin Car Company‘s specialty – and only currently-produced vehicle – is the S3 Roadster. It’s actually a kit-car copy of the Lotus Super 7. The founder and owner of the company is a man named John Watson. He is a direct descendant of the legendary Tim Birkin. Tim was a pioneering British racing driver – one of the “Bentley Boys” of the 1920s. That’s some pretty cool history for this humble little company!
Founded by a man named Zied Guiga, Wallyscar is a Tunisian car manufacturer that was formed in 2006. It is based in Ben Arous. While it is based in Africa, the company actually sells vehicles all over the world, including Panama, France, Spain, Qatar, and Morocco. Wallyscar works closely with the French automobile company, Peugeot, which provides the engines in its vehicles. It is known for two vehicles – the Izis and the Iris. Both are sturdy little Jeep-like vehicles that are built to last and can handle rough terrain if needed.
This innovative company, based in Uganda, is ahead of the other companies we have talked about so far – it is in the EV market and prides itself on creating Africa’s first electric car. Similar to SNVI, Kiira builds large city buses, as well as smaller vehicles. It also helps the country out by creating jobs for locals and boosting the country’s economy. Its electric buses are quite amazing – the Kayoola EVS is a fully electric low-floor city bus that has a range of 186 miles on a full charge. That’s pretty impressive considering its massive size!
Did you think we were just going to talk about civilian vehicle companies? No way! Land Systems OMC is a very cool company that specializes in making a wide assortment of badass armored vehicles. Based in South Africa LS OMC produces a range of armored vehicles that are exported all over the world, including to the U.S., Canadian, and South African militaries.
Local Innovation and Design: African car makers are breaking away from the conventional molds and infusing their designs with local inspiration and flair. Drawing on the continent’s rich cultural heritage, diverse landscapes, and vibrant colors, these manufacturers are creating vehicles that reflect African identity. From sleek electric cars inspired by wildlife to off-road vehicles designed to tackle challenging terrains, African car makers are showcasing their creativity and ingenuity, adding a distinct African touch to the global automotive scene.
Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Solutions: African car makers are prioritizing sustainability and environmental consciousness. Many are pioneering the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, in their vehicles. By developing electric and hybrid cars, these manufacturers are reducing carbon emissions, combating climate change, and promoting a greener future. Additionally, African car makers are incorporating eco-friendly materials and implementing responsible manufacturing practices, ensuring that their vehicles leave a minimal ecological footprint.
Job Creation and Economic Growth: The emergence of African car makers is not only transforming the automotive sector but also driving economic growth and job creation. By establishing manufacturing plants and supply chains across the continent, these manufacturers are creating employment opportunities, particularly for local communities. The growth of the automotive industry in Africa also stimulates related sectors, such as steel and plastics, contributing to overall economic development and attracting foreign investment.
Empowering Local Talent and Skills Development: African car makers are investing in the development of local talent, from engineers and designers to technicians and assembly line workers. By providing training programs and skill-building initiatives, these manufacturers are nurturing a skilled workforce that can sustain and advance the automotive industry in Africa. This emphasis on skills development empowers individuals, reduces reliance on imported expertise, and promotes self-reliance in the sector.
Market Expansion and Global Recognition: African car makers are not limiting their ambitions to the domestic market. With increasing quality and recognition, these manufacturers are exploring export opportunities and expanding their reach beyond Africa’s borders. By exporting vehicles to other regions, African car makers are challenging the perception of the continent as a mere consumer of automotive products. They are gaining global recognition for their craftsmanship, innovation, and unique approach to vehicle manufacturing.
Conclusion: The rise of African car makers represents a significant shift in the global automotive industry. These manufacturers are rewriting the narrative, showcasing African innovation, sustainability, and economic potential.
With their local designs, commitment to sustainability, and focus on skill development, African car makers are challenging conventional norms and transforming Africa’s image as a producer rather than just a consumer of vehicles. As they continue to drive innovation and break barriers, African car makers are paving the way for a thriving automotive sector that not only contributes to economic growth but also embodies the spirit of African ingenuity and excellence.
Black Wall St. MediaContributor