The Yaoundé Multipurpose complex was the place to be in April as it played host to her maiden motor show. Would be customers were taken aback by the sheer beauty of the cars on display, from trucks to wagons and not forgetting the sedan.
The patron of the event was none other than the Cameroon Automotive Holding Company which is ideally a Chinese-Cameroon venture. The intention was to showcase cars that could handle the rough and muddy roads during the respective dry and rainy seasons.
In the existence of an enabling environment for the firm, it aims to sell the cars under the brand of “star of Africa”. The owner, Mr. Lu Fuquing, is keen to construct an automobile plant which is to be closely located to the deep sea port of Kribi which was constructed by the People’s Republic of China. It goes without saying that it would be a key development in a part of Africa that is inarguably underdeveloped.
As a good businessman has been pitching camp in Cameroon for the last four years; being a good businessman he has seen the need to venture into the region’s untapped market. A larger section of the Cameroonian population is likely to but the imported vehicles which have been a subject too high taxes. Owing to this, the ratio of cars per 1000 people in Cameroon is the lowest in the world. Cameroon’s neighbors i.e. Chad and the Central African Republic are also choking with exorbitant car prices.
David Yonguet, the firm’s project manager points how they were surprised to see that most Cameroonians are riding in old cars. He further points of the company’s market research was conducted in Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Ivory Coast; but they settled for Cameroon owing to the ready availability of glass, tires, leather chairs etc. hence, it became the preferred investment destination. Chinese Automotive is among the many Chinese Automobile firms like FAW that have been looking to launch sales in parts of Africa with low car penetration.
The company plans to kick-start the project by an importation of car parts for assembly in Cameroon and embark on the full local assembly after later on after conducting thorough training of its local workforce. The willingness by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to engage in free trade has proved beneficial for the firm’s operation.
It is common knowledge that new ventures face problems in their implementation and the Star Africa idea is not immune to such. Some of the car parts are Chinese made and are yet to receive an okay for their delivery. The land allocated for the venture is yet to be accessed by Mr. Fu’s firm. Agreements on customs duties with the French government and investigation into corruption allegations among local officials are proving to be a stumbling block to Mr. Fu’s company.
The Star Africa is facing completion from Cameroon Automobile Industry Company that plans to set up plants in Kribi and Doula. In the light of all the prevailing storms, David Yonguet maintains that their company will not only honor the deal to manufacture in Cameroon but also succeed in their objectives. He ends by stipulating that a supportive government is all the fuel Star Africa needs to cruise on the Cameroonian roads!