REVOLUTION IN INDUSTRY

Ghana 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Subhi Accad, CEO of Accad Group, on key areas of opportunities in the sector, government measures to support the industry, and the problems with financing in Ghana.

Subhi Accad
BIOGRAPHY
Subhi Accad is the Group CEO for Auto Parts Ltd, the authorized importer for Nissan cars in Ghana and also Mercury, Mariner, and Quicksilver boats. He doubles as CEO for Universal Motors Ltd, authorized importers for Volkswagen and Porsche in Ghana. He is a Board Director of Operation Smile, a nonprofit volunteer medical organization that provides free reconstructive facial surgery. He has been the Honorary Consul of Mexico since 2009.

What are the major opportunities for diversification in the Ghanaian economy?

There are several opportunities in Ghana, including in our sector. The global trend is shifting toward electrification and other options; however, electric vehicles are the near future and the trends of the last few years have determined the speed at which we will evolve. Countries like China have decided that, in the medium term, a large percentage of their cars will be electric, securing many exports. India is following suit because of pollution, while Europe has already started. Before, manufacturers were somewhat reluctant about this; however, if we do not follow the decisions of large governments such as China, India, the US, and Europe, we will find ourselves trailing behind. There is a significant opportunity for manufacturers of spare parts to enter our area because of the new business facilities and industrial parks that the government wants to construct here with the One District, One Factory incentive.

What measures do you expect from the government to boost the car industry in Ghana?

We are moving rapidly and will see a great revolution in the car industry. This will have a large impact on us, though our speed will depend on government decisions. If the Ghanaian government decides to lift duties and VAT on electric cars, then many people can start buying electric cars. That is a step forward. The new technology cars are powerful and can reach a higher horsepower. The battery life and length of time to recharge is being rapidly developed. In the southern hemisphere, we will be a few years behind depending on the government's decisions. There are many facilities that the government is willing to give out for investors. Electricity is an issue, though this is being solved in terms of the cost. We pay USD0.27 per kW and the target is USD0.10, and we will have to see how that can be reached. To create a successful industry, we need to create excellent and cost-effective infrastructure.

What is the impact of the banking system on trade in Ghana?

We look into bringing in a new product that is affordable and has a warranty. We are still studying how best to introduce that into the market and, to do so, we need the proper financing through banks and interest rates. To solve this issue, the government has reduced the interest on treasury bills. Secondly, the banking system with the new capitalization will make people understand that we have to wake up and start practicing retail banking. All our neighbors such as Togo, Mali, and Ivory Coast have much lower interest rates. If the same was applied in Ghana, we would be many times larger; therefore, this is a major problem.

What are your expectations for the Accad Group and the Ghanaian economy in 2018?

For the Accad Group, the whole system has to move quickly. Unfortunately, the biggest issue for us in 2017 was the government's decision not to purchase vehicles for governmental institutions. There were some ongoing tenders, though nothing has materialized yet. The largest customer has always been the government followed by construction companies, and those two institutions did nothing in 2017. This is a major issue and we need things to start moving immediately to be able to continue. There is a great deal of interest in investment, though. The more delays there are, the more we will be affected; hence, there has to be a different approach to banking for the car industry. The government has to put a stop to gray imports to protect companies. We are working with Nissan, Volkswagen, and Porsche and are spending large sums of money on training, communication, and marketing. Second-hand sales have to be reduced as well, as the fuel bills are higher and cars are not roadworthy, causing more accidents on the roads and pollution.