Former Trade and Industry Minister, Alec Erwin, summed it up succinctly in a slightly off-colour but candid remark, when he told industry leaders “get off your a***s” at naamsa’s SA Automotive Thought Leadership Roundtable Discussions on 19 April.
The discussions on the subject of the transition to new energy vehicles (NEV) were held at Sun Arena at Time Square in Pretoria and were the first of four Roundtable discussions spearheaded by naamsa, which will take place this year. It was attended by representatives from all the major OEMs, banks as well as from government. Current Minister of Trade and Industry, Ibrahim Patel, was scheduled as a key participant but owing to last-minute governmental responsibilities, Acting Director General of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic), Malebo Mabitje-Thompson, took his place.
The event was structured around three panel discussions, in each case with different industry leaders participating. The three discussions were titled “What do we do together today, to prepare for tomorrow?”, “How do we make SA attractive – Investment/Policy/Production/Infrastructure” and “How do we stimulate demand for NEVs in SA?”.
Erwin’s remark came at the end of the first session when host, facilitator and CEO of naamsa, Michael Mabasa, asked him to summarise the takeaways from the first session, which also included Toyota SA CEO Andrew Kirby and President of the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM), Mike Whitfield.
Throughout the sessions, the same sentiment was expressed without fail – that despite many challenges and opportunities, time is running out and action is needed right now. Kirby rightly pointed out that though South Africa is still the automotive leader and benchmark on the continent, that it could not become complacent, especially in the light of countries such as Morocco and Egypt having already overtaken it in the EV stakes.
Participants in the other sessions were Martina Biene (Chairperson and MD of VWSA), Renai Moothilal (Executive Director of Naacam), Neale Hill (CEO of Ford SA and President of naamsa), Ghana Msibi (CEO of Wesbank), George Minnie (CEO of Autotrader), Edward Makwana (Marketing and Public Relations of Legacy Motor Group) and Gary Scott (CEO of Kia SA).
The sponsoring partners of the event were RMB, FNB and Wesbank, and First Rand CEO Jacques Celliers made the opening address.
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