Japanese car maker Nissan will set up a new regional business unit for Africa in line with its Nissan Next global strategy plan, aiming to boost manufacturing capacity and penetrate one of the world’s biggest undeveloped new car markets.

The move marks a reorganization of the firm’s disparate operations on the continent, bringing them within one entity headed by Mike Whitfield, who previously served as managing director of Nissan’s units in both Egypt and South Africa.

“Beyond internal operating enhancements, this also positions Nissan to focus on the massive opportunity that Africa presents to the organization globally,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Despite harboring the largest population and household income growth in the world, Sub-Saharan Africa’s 1 billion people account for just 1% of the world’s new passenger car sales, based on industry data.

Most automobile manufactures have focused manufacturing and sales in South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, which accounts for 85% of Africa’s new car purchases.

Nissan, along with competitors Volkswagen, BMW, and Toyota, have been lobbying African governments to grant conditions that favor local assembly and manufacturing while curbing imports of cheap used cars.

Automobile makers are also hoping to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) which is expected to come into force in early 2021, and will reduce tariffs and ease the flow of goods between member states.

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