The government's efforts to maintain positive investment perceptions went into overdrive on Wednesday as trade and industry minister Rob Davies met with BMW South Africa to iron out impressions that the company was cutting back on expansion plans.
Davies was scheduled to have an in-depth meeting on Wednesday night with BMW SA.
"I am seeing them to talk to them this afternoon," he said. "I received a letter from BMW in which they clarified that their concerns were not correctly reported."
This is a reference to BMW SA's confirmation last week that it had been taken off the bidding table for the production of a new and second model at its Rosslyn plant in Pretoria because of the strike in the component manufacturing sector.
RENAULT SHIFTS FOCUS TO NIGERIA
This came as the Renault-Nissan alliance and West African conglomerate Stallion Group announced that they intended to jointly launch vehicle assembly in Nigeria, indicating there was potential to develop the plant into a major manufacturing hub for Nissan in Africa.
Econometrix director Azar Jammine said Nissan's plan was "a sign of the times" and in retrospect might be seen as the seminal moment in the shift in power in Africa away from South Africa to Nigeria.
"I also find it fascinating and not coincidental this announcement comes so soon after the motor industry strikes and BMW's announcement," Jammine said. "There could be a strong message in there."
"We are talking for the first time of Nigeria becoming a major competitor to South Africa on the manufacturing side, which should be a huge wake-up call to the government and unions."
However, Nissan South Africa managing director Mike Whitfield, who is responsible for the sub-Saharan Africa region including South Africa and Nigeria, said the new plant would not pose any threat to the South African motor industry and was an opportunity for co-operation.
He said the Nigerian motor industry would be complementary to South Africa's because Nissan SA would supply semi-knocked down vehicle kits to Nigeria and components would be supplied from South Africa.
"South Africa could capitalise on this because Nigeria has a market of 160 million people," he added.
Nissan SA currently exports bakkies to Nigeria. - Business Report