Parliament upbeat about Peugeot plant prospects

The Peugeot-Opel assembly plant at Walvis Bay has potential to significantly contribute to Namibia’s economic growth despite low vehicle uptake, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics and Public Administration has said. 

This comes after the French automaker only assembled 150 vehicles since it started operations in December 2018, out of a production target of 5,000 units by 2020. 

“The project is very viable and economical, provided that the challenges that the plant faces are resolved urgently. If they can sell some of the cars, it's an ideal project that needs to be supported and not discouraged at all because Namibia's dream is to industrialise the country.  So, this is one of the starting points it needs to be majorly supported," said the committee chairperson Natangwe Ithete. 

He further said the expectations of the plant are way too high and that the ideology that new projects and initiatives need to yield positive results on commencement needs to be done away with. 

"If we abandon the culture of expecting things to happen overnight, this project can still be realised. The challenge is that we already do not have things of this nature in Namibia, so we always expect things to happen overnight, which is not possible or realistic, so it requires support as it is a new-born…this is a learning curve and we are all learning," he said. 

To support the plant which is reported to have employed only 20 employees from the targeted 50, Cabinet issued a directive in 2019 directing all government entities to purchase the vehicles assembled at the Walvis Bay plant. 

The agreement between Groupe PSA and the Namibian government was part of the motoring group’s strategic profitable growth plan, which aimed to satisfy customer expectations in all the regions in which it operates. 

Peugeot recently pondered about the future of its Namibian assembly plant, which was opened four years ago to build cars for the Southern Africa market but has since suspended operations. 

Peugeot global Chief Executive Officer Linda Jackson said the company has not yet decided whether to build vehicles in Southern Africa again. 

Ithete strongly opposes this move, claiming that it will harm the country's reputation and that direct investments should remain in the country. 

"I will never support any good product or initiative being taken away from the country because my priority and patriotism is to this country and as a full Namibian, I should always fight to get direct investments to stay at home and not leave at all as that is not a positive sign regardless of the circumstances," Ithete said. 

Meanwhile, Stellantis, the Europe-based motor group whose brands include Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat, Jeep, Opel and Alfa Romeo, is reported to have put out feelers in South Africa to investigate the feasibility of vehicles being built in the neighbouring country. 

Previously, Peugeots were built under contract by other motor companies.

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Last modified on Friday, 21 October 2022 18:09

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