Africa’s leading indigenous vehicle manufacturer, Innoson Motors, would be opening a factory in Imo State. Also, the company is deepening capabilities in the export arm of its business to manage the paralysis of forex which continues to affect manufacturers in Nigeria. Sierra Leone just placed an order of $4.7 million for vehicles. That money is hard currency. If Innoson sustains that, it would not have to buy U.S. dollars in the black market.
Last October, I was with His Majesty, Obi Gibson Nwosu, the Eze Uzu II of Awka, and we broke kola nuts. If you grew up in Abia state, you could be tripped by the version of Igbo spoken in Awka. Throughout the conversation, I ensured I kept to Igbo Izugbe (the general Igbo) as my Isuikwuato version of Igbo language could cause wahala. Good enough, Prof FC Ogbalu, an Anambra icon of Igbo language, brought his version of Igbo into Igbo Izugbe. Then Prof Tony Ubesie brought the Enugu version.
Prof Chinua Achebe had written in his own dialect in Ahiajoku lectures in Owerri with explanations on Okike which he edited. At the end, the king saw a raw village boy, not a yankee! Later that evening, I paid courtesy call to the amazing Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Charles Esimone. As I moved around Awka, I heard a rumour that Innoson Motors would expand into Imo State. Ladies and gentlemen, that is now confirmed. Innoson Motors will open a plant in Imo State.
Also notice how Innoson is pushing for exports to manage the forex risks. Good enough, Sierra Leone is sending $4.7 million through an order: “That’s why we are focusing more on export now to get foreign exchange to enable us to continue to run the factory”.
Most vehicle manufacturers are switching from petrol to electric engine. Are you thinking in that direction?
I never built engine for the first time. I only build body and buy engine. What we do here is building complete motor body. Therefore, if electric is better, what I will do is to partner with electric company to supply me electric engine. And in that case, I won’t lose anything. If electric vehicles become the new normal, we’ll switch over to electric
Where do you export to? Do you supply your vehicles to other African countries?
Where do you export to? Do you supply your vehicles to other African countries? Yes. As of now, I have order of about $4.7million worth of vehicles from Sierra Leone. That’s what I’m producing now for Sierra Leone government. Normally, I do get order and supply from within and outside the country.
We find it difficult to access foreign exchange, we don’t get at all. How can you be doing black market to do manufacturing? It is difficult. That’s why we are focusing more on export now to get foreign exchange to enable us to continue to run the factory.
Have you considered partnering or merging with known foreign vehicle manufacturers?
Well, most of them want me to partner or merge with them. Yes, we are looking into it. I’m going to open a new factory in Imo in partnership with foreign companies. I believe the partnership will help us to develop motor manufacturing on a bigger scale in Nigeria.
When pioneering entrepreneurs emerge, nations rise. Nigeria is rising with Innoson.