Nissan increased its imports into Africa by 46 per cent in the first seven months of the year, but several factors could result in the rate of growth slowing down, Nissan SA's Julian Cook says.

Nissan increased its imports into Africa by 46 per cent in the first seven months of the year, but several factors could result in the rate of growth slowing down, a senior manager of Nissan SA's export division, Julian Cook, said at the weekend.


Nissan SA increased its imports into Africa, particularly of one ton Hardbodies, by 46 per cent in the seven months of the year compared with the same period in 2002.


By the end of July, the Rosslyn-based company's direct exports to Africa totalled 3 701 units against 2 535 in the first seven months of 2002. The company also exports to a distribution point in Le Havre, which re-exports SA-built vehicles to various territories in Africa. In 2003, 290 units were exported to Le Havre.


The company plans to reach its total export target of 6 500 units for the year, compared with 5 778 units last year.


Cook added that left-hand drive vehicles accounted for 30 per cent of exports: "However, it is the right-hand drive market which has shown the most growth, following the success of the new Hardbody range. Particularly strong growth was recorded in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania."


Nissan SA has a presence in over 30 countries in Africa and in 2003 actively exported to nine right-hand drive and 12 left-hand drive countires, plus to Le Havre.


The company's general manager of marketing and communication, Roel De Vries, told CARtoday.com in July that Nissan SA's export programme would be expanded to include countries outside Sub-Saharan Africa.


Cook confirmed: "We have recently been able to expand to Mediterranean Africa, such as Algeria, and this has given us further export growth. But if one looks at the growth of our exports from 2 633 units in 1999 to 5 778 last year, it would be unrealistic to expect this speed of growth to continue.


"Several factors are mitigating against future strong growth. Firstly, the African market is maturing and is expected to stabilise. Secondly, the strengthening of the rand this year is adversely affecting price competitiveness in many of our traditionally strong export markets on the continent," he added.


Nissan SA has also had success in exporting vehicles to UN supported organisations throughout Africa, with nearly 100 units going to this market in the first half of this year, Cook concluded.