Automotive Industry

Industry Profile

Overview of the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry is the world of automobiles. Today, vehicles have more than 20,000 parts. These include engines, bodies, interiors, tires, batteries and automatic brake transition systems—all components from different manufacturers involved in the global automotive supply chain. 

Automobiles go beyond cars. They include light trucks, pickups, vans, buses and motorcycles.  Automobile engines were formerly only fueled by petrol or diesel. Now, there are recent advances in battery-powered vehicles, expected to be the future of the industry.

Activities in the automotive sector include design, development, manufacturing, assembling, marketing, sales, financing and maintenance. The breadth of this sector makes it one of the largest by revenue and complexity—globally. 

The US, Japan, Germany, UK, France and China are home to car brands that dominate the market; the supply of components and car assembly span across the globe. 

The growing demand for electric cars has opened the room to a new generation of technology providers working towards autonomous and connected vehicles. Many automotive companies are shifting their strategies to become mobility service providers.

Global View
In 2020, estimates based on revenue range from $4 to $6 trillion per annum, with projections of reaching just under $9 trillion in 2030. The industry employs approximately 9 million persons directly—whose global output is about 60 million cars per annum. 

With each direct auto job supporting at least five indirect jobs, the automotive sector provides approximately more than 50 million jobs putting it at over 5 percent of the global total manufacturing employment.

In Africa, only 422,611 new vehicles sold in 2018—a continent of more than 1 billion people. The automotive sector in Africa is the most underdeveloped—globally. 

South Africa is by far the most developed in Africa in terms of local demand and export of cars. 

Morocco has also proven itself as the most promising automotive hub on the continent, with its growing ecosystem of component suppliers in the country and car exports to European markets. Egypt and Algeria are also emerging as leaders in the African region.

The market for used-car sales in Africa is currently vast and dominant in most African countries, accounting for 449,324 units in 2018. It has led several African countries to promote policies to reduce the importation of used cars to drive up their local automotive market. 

Such strategies have seen some successes. Global vehicle manufacturers are setting up production plants or partnering with local assemblers in Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, and Rwanda. 

 The earlier successes seen in several countries have stalled due to the slowdown in economic growth and the shrinking middle class. Financing solutions to make car purchase easier is available in other developed markets have also not matched these ambitions. 

Nevertheless, there is a high prospect for growth as less than 1% of the global new car sales in Africa in a market with a potential 3-4 million cars per year in Africa. The slowing demand for cars in developed countries and room for growth in Africa has led to Africa referred to as the final frontier of the automotive sector.

Ghana’s automotive sector comprises mainly retailers of imported used vehicles and a few distributors who retail new cars. Ghana imports about 100,000 vehicles per year. About 90% are used vehicles, estimated at US$1.14 billion annually. The United States, Japan, and Germany are leading suppliers.

The Ghanaian automobile market was valued at USD 4.60 billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 10.64 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 15% during the forecast period (2022-2027). According to a Mordor Intelligence report. Ghana has the third-biggest economy in West African countries. It is likely to experience growth in the automotive industry owing to the increase in “Made in Ghana” vehicles initiated by Kantanka Group in 2016 and the increasing skilled workforce in Ghana’s automotive sector. 

However, Ghana is seeking to change this dynamic by attracting investment from leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The 2019 Ghana Automotive Development Policy aims to produce affordable new vehicles, reducing the heavy reliance on used cars. Some OEMs have already signed assembly agreements, including Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota, and Suzuki. The local company Kantanka Automobile Company Limited assembles the Kantanka line of vehicles from Completely Knocked Down (CKD) kits from China. It mainly produces sedans and SUVs as well as some military cars. In addition, the Government of Ghana has procured some of these local vehicles for use. 

In April 2020, Ghana passed the Customs Amendment Act, 2020, Act 1014, to try to boost investment in the automotive sector. Another significant incentive for U.S. automobile investors is the planned launch of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). It will create a large common market with a population of about 1.2 billion, having an estimated GDP of $2.5 trillion. 

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the volume of imported vehicles between 2003 and 2012 grew by over 300%, from 33,000 units to 110,474 units. The rise of the middle class and the availability of attractive credit from financial institutions have increased the importation of cars and motorcycles.

Passenger vehicles were Kenya’s fourth largest import in 2015, valued at approximately US$440 million and 2.4% of total imports (by value). Commercial vehicles ranked seventh, valued at US$380 million. Suppose the current trend of 10% to 12% growth per annum on vehicle imports is to be maintained. In that case, Kenya will have five million vehicles on the road by 2030. According to the KNBS, a total of 112,536 vehicles were registered in 2015, including newly registered and re-registered vehicles. KNBS does not differentiate between registering new vehicles and the re-registration of used vehicles. In contrast, the Kenya Motor Industry (KMI) only records new vehicles sold.

KMI states that 19,523 new vehicles were sold in Kenya in 2015, reflecting the dominance of used cars in the retail market. In 2015 light and heavy commercial vehicles combined accounted for 86% of total vehicle sales, highlighting the importance of larger vehicles, such as light commercial vehicles, minibuses, heavy trucks, and buses. Sedans and SUVs made up 14%. Heavy commercial vehicles too saw the highest growth, with a CAGR of 17.5% between 2005 and 2015 and thus were key drivers underpinning new vehicle sales growth over that period.

Data from the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) shows that Nigeria spends around $8 billion to import about 300,000 to 400,000 cars yearly. More than 90% of them are used vehicles locally referred to as Tokunbo. It is one of the most foreign-exchange consuming trade in the country. To discourage importing automobiles and encourage local vehicle production, Nigeria has slammed high tariffs on vehicle importation.

There are plans by global brands to set up local car assembly plants in Nigeria with local companies as partners or with their brands. The National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) granted thirty-five companies licenses to assemble/produce vehicles. 

A representative of other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) is moving to set up assembly operations to take advantage of this opportunity. There are more than one billion dollars of investment in the automobile industry in Nigeria. Approximately more than 4,700 people have direct employment. 

However, the sector has the potential to generate 70,000 direct jobs and 210,000 indirect jobs. The recent downturn in the economy has made it challenging for assembly operations to take off and others operating at barely 5-15% of their capacity.

South Africa
South Africa has become the home to the most advanced automotive industry in Africa and has become a significant global player. 

Seven major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) with operations in the country produce more than 50% of all vehicles made in Africa. With 370 000 passenger vehicles sold per year and more than 550,000 vehicles registered in the country in 2018, the most in Africa, South Africa is both a key manufacturer and market for automobiles in Africa.

According to the International Labour Organisation, the automotive industry in South Africa accounted for 7 per cent of the GDP and 93,72 jobs in 2017 in South Africa. An estimated 75% per cent of the job opportunities sustained by the industry value chain were low to medium-skilled workers. In addition, several foreign brands have production contracts in South African factories due to lower production costs making South Africa a continental leader in the automotive industry.

  • Calls to reduce carbon emissions has led to the accelerating development of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electrical vehicles.

  • The automotive industry is undergoing a digital transformation. Cars are increasingly becoming autonomous—from simple tasks such as assisted parking to fully driverless vehicles, connectivity—to mobile devices and electric automobiles running solely on operating systems with regular updates.

  • The focus on electrification of cars has led to a race for improved battery technologies among companies. There is heavy spending now directed to research and development and national alliances to procure crucial mineral resources for batteries.

  • Policies for local manufacturing and assembling of cars for job creation promoted by countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya, competing to become the car production hubs in their regions.

  • Mobility solutions and Car-as-a-Service (CaaS): The rise of the sharing economy is altering traditional car ownership. Startups providing car sharing and pooling services from mobile devices have become global giants. These are making many automotive companies consider a change to their business models.

  • Overhaul in Manufacturing and Assembling Operations.

    The advancement of digital technologies and fully electric cars has led to a revamp of several plants and a redefined approach to building new ones.

  • Telematic Insurance. Data-driven personalised insurance service based on car usage.

Areas of research include:

  • Connected and Automated Vehicles
  • Driver and passenger safety
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Fuel Economy Technologies
  • Government Regulations & Policies
  • Highway Safety
  • Mobility
  • Powertrain & Propulsion
  • Car Servicing Forecasting
  • Vehicle Safety
  • Vehicle design and development
  • Auto parts development
  • Autonomous vehicles

Some of the SDGs to which the automotive industry can make crucial contributions to are:

  • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 13; Climate Action: electric cars, hybrid cars, CO2 emissions, and cars with lower fuel consumption.
  • SDG 8: For decent work and economic growth, the automotive industry has the potential to create thousands of direct and millions of supporting jobs.
  • SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production; reduce pollution in the production process, decrease waste and meet sustainability standards.
  • The struggling economies and slow or shrinking growth of the middle class in Africa. As a result, new cars are unaffordable for most people on the continent; imported used ones remain the most in-demand.
  • Lack of robust financing options for vehicle purchase in sub-Saharan African markets.
  • A poorly developed supply chain, shortage of locally skilled workforce and economic downturn are threats to local manufacturing.
  • The poor road infrastructure in several sub-Saharan countries takes a toll on vehicles—leading to hesitancy in investing in new automobiles.
  • Avenue for global politics and national alliances in mining in African countries. These countries are strategic hubs for the export of crucial minerals for battery technologies.
  • Absence of charging networks for electric vehicles.
  • Computer-Aided Design and 3D Printing: Taking a new car design from concept to the assembly line in the industry can take half a decade with several approval levels. That is changing with the advent of computer-aided design and manufacturing. Concept cars can now be speedily and easily modelled, their movements simulated, and feedback taken from team members and customers with less investment in production. In digital skills, this is the application of modelling and simulation skills.
  • Driverless Vehicles. There is an explosive growth of big data, artificial intelligence and computational power. These have led to the development of increasingly Smart, autonomous vehicles. What was once sci-fi is fast-becoming an everyday reality. In digital skills, this is the application of data science skills.  In digital skills, this is the applied combination of automation and software engineering skills, and data science skills.
  • Digital Sourcing. Car dealerships used to be a big deal; you had to enter one to buy a car. The internet has changed that. Car buying decisions are now being made online with the availability of comparison tools and customer reviews. The growth of virtual and augmented reality will further disrupt the car buying process. Booking test-driving centres online will become the norm. In digital skills, this is the application of user interface and experience design skills. In digital skills, software engineering skills and user experience design skills.
  • Digital and Personalised Experiences: Vehicles are becoming increasingly software-driven. Like what Tesla does today, software in cars can update—to unlock and add functionalities. Devices easily connect for communications and access to infotainment systems. The more the data accessible to carmakers, the better the personalisation and user-experience of cars. In digital skills, software engineering skills and user experience design skills.
  • Connected Supply Chains.  Plenty of parts and cars manufactured yearly makes it one of the industries with complex supply chains. The use of enterprise management systems (ERM) has become more prevalent with the availability of demand data to anticipate supply needs. It will drive up efficiency, reduce cost and anticipate needs.
  • Diagnostics and Maintenance. Vehicles running advanced self-diagnostic systems can predict when maintenance checks are needed. They can also alert drivers to issues and make specific recommendations on replacing parts by taking advantage of big data, machine learning, and connectivity. In digital skills, this is the application of data science skills.
  • Data Security and Protection. Increased digitisation and connectivity make automobiles susceptible to cybersecurity threats. There may be increasing attempts to hijack cars with malicious intents or for fun by hackers testing their skills. There is a need for cybersecurity expertise in the industry.

The industry is open to graduates from all disciplines while providing technical roles for career disciplines in Design & Engineering and Science & Technology. It is also an attractive industry for Marketing, Sales & Services professionals with several iconic marketing campaigns coming from the industry. Technical graduate roles in the industry include:

  • Automobile/Industrial designer
  • Automotive engineer
  • Process engineer
  • Quality testing engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Testing and compliance Engineer
  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Supply Chain Analyst
  • 3D printing engineer
  • Vehicle Inspector
  • Software Engineer
  • Sustainability integration expert.

The industry also accommodates graduates with jobs in Information Technology, Administration & Management, Media & Communications, Finance, Media & Communications, and People Management. The highest-paying jobs in the sector are quality testing, process engineering, automobile design & engineering, marketing and sales.

  • Communication and Persuasion: These are applicable in sharing design concepts, coming up with marketing campaigns and communicating features to customers.

  • Analysis and Problem-solving: These are applicable in diagnosing problems with assembly lines and automotive engines. It involves providing solutions to them.

  • Professionalism and Industry Awareness: The automotive industry can be rather conservative. Management staff dress formally while engineers wear safety gear. Yet, it is an industry undergoing a lot of disruption.

  • Networking and Teamwork: A car consists of more than 20,000 parts. Hence, the complex supply chain in the automotive industry and the need to work with others in the industry.

  • Planning and Organisation: The complexity of the automobile industry makes it essential to coordinate projects. And also, manage workspaces with your team and be able to account for activities. 

While an automotive engineering degree may offer a direct route into the industry, it is not the only way. The industry is also widely open to graduates with degrees in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, systems/ process/ production/ manufacturing/ control engineering and computer science/engineering. Other relevant areas of study include mechatronics, instrumentation, material engineering, chemical engineering, industrial design, mathematics, physics, power systems, telecoms and environmental science. Transitions from aerospace and aeronautic engineering are also not uncommon as automobile companies examine alternative propulsion systems. 

Relevant second degrees in automotive engineering, mechatronics, car design, transport planning, automotive design and intelligent transport can also provide an edge for specialisation. 

Engineers can take programmes from accredited bodies such as the Society of Automotive Engineers, Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) or other engineering bodies offering a path to being a chartered engineer.

Large automotive companies have graduate programmes that take graduates through several units before settling on a speciality. It can be in a technical or management role. A number of these companies provide opportunities for internships and apprenticeships at their plants. Entry as a technician may offer a faster route into technical jobs in the sector. As a very hands-on industry for engineers, on the spot assessment and knowledge evaluations is not uncommon. Openings are typically available on their websites.

With interest in the industry, relevant qualifications, insight, and knowledge of a company, you can network your way into the industry by attending auto shows. Automotive executives grace these events, which can provide an opportunity to meet them directly. 

A portfolio of your work and knowledge of specific engines—as an engineer/designer—can provide an edge as a conversation starter in reaching out to C-level executives. The executives can provide updates on openings or introductions into their company. 

Starting a new car company requires a high cost of financing, experience, navigating complex supply chains and meeting compliance standards. It typically also takes years from design to bringing a car to the market. These have led to more startups focusing on mobility solutions. These include ridesharing, autonomous driving software. And also digital services for car sale, purchase and maintenance, and telematics for insurance.

Graduates can work with large conglomerates who manufacture and market the major car brands, smaller companies that provide car maintenance services, and dealerships responsible for sales. All offer a wide range of roles. 

The industry has become more tech-driven, with advances in electric cars, autonomous driving and advanced safety systems. There is room for graduates who are hands-on, innovative and tech-savvy. 

The sector has a reputation for layoffs during economic downturns, especially for temporary jobs and sales roles. Although there is always a quick rebuilding of its workforce as the economy rebounds. There is, however, an increasing role of robots in the car manufacturing process. 

It is one of the leading industries involving employment in manufacturing. Though further automation will reduce the number of low-wage jobs, expected is a boom in new job creation in digitisation, electronics and sustainability.

The sector is fast-paced—with companies annually releasing new car models which have been in the works for years. It makes marketing a big deal in the industry—with companies competing on features such as legroom, weight and pricing.  

Engineers and other professionals work in large multidisciplinary teams while also managing relationships with a chain of suppliers. One of the most hectic moments in the industry is car recalls. Releasing new car models require a hefty investment which makes failure in the sector expensive. 

During the development of new automobiles, it is common to visit several dealerships, run customer focus groups and get feedback surveys—while monitoring changes in taste across generations. It is an industry with both eyes in the workshop and the market. There are several travel opportunities for skilled staff; to visit production sites, car shows, and suppliers. 

 There are numerous office positions available in the sector. However, design & engineering; and management & administration staff frequently visit vehicle manufacturing plants. The plants are noisy, busy and filled with heavy machinery, no matter how modern. Improving working conditions in plants and safety has been a top priority in the automobile industry. 

Salaries and benefits in the sector are among the best in manufacturing, extending paid vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans. Engineers who demonstrate leadership skills have the opportunity to be promoted to management positions. 

Training opportunities exist for plant workers—for competence in the redesign of plants to produce new models. Most plant workers in countries with a long-established automotive industry belong to unions. The unions protect their interests, avoid layoffs and ensure they are well-compensated when inevitable. 

The need for low to semi-skilled workers will decline due to increasing automation. However, the demand for skilled workers will remain at the current level. There is a growing demand for engineers, scientists, environmentalists and technicians in the sector.


  • Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA: International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers)
  • Association of African Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM)
  • The Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Ingénieurs des Techniques de l’Automobil (FISITA)
  • International Automobile Association (IAA)
  • Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International)
  • Institute of the Motor Industry
  • African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM)
  • Fédération des Industries des Equipements pour Véhicules (fiev)

Automobile Association of Ghana, Ghana Automobile Distributors Association, Ghana Association of Mechanical Engineers


Nana Bonsu, Kwadwo Safo Jnr, Salem Kalmoni, Eddie Kusi Ankomah, Nouhad J. Kalmoni, Kwadwo Safo, Thomas Svanikier

Ministry of Trade and Industry

In addition to carmakers which are globally recognised brands, at the core of the automotive industry supply chain are lesser-known companies specialising in the design, manufacturing, wiring, metal & stamping, battery production, vehicle interior design, and seat production.

Car Makers
BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Groupe PSA, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Kia, Hyundai, Scania, MAN, Tesla, Nikola, General Motors, Iveco, BYD, Mitsubishi, Mahindra & Mahindra, Honda, Skoda, Daimler AG/ Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Volvo, Subaru, SEAT, Renault, Citroen, Volkswagen AG, Suzuki, Smart, Ram, Rolls Royce, Opel, Mazda, Porsche, Jeep, Geely, Fiat, Ferrari, Chevrolet

Suppliers (with African Presence in Morocco or South Africa or both)

Wiring: Lear Networks, Bosch, ZF Friedrichshafen, Yazaki, Delphi, Fujikura, Sumitomo, MTA, & Leoni.

Metal & Stamping: Snop, Gestamp, Socafix, GMD and Tuyaut

Battery: Electra, Almabat, Tecna and Maribat

Vehicle Interior & Seat Ecosystem: Faurecia, SIGIT, Polydesign Exco, Reydel and GMD.

Others: Novares, Scania Morocco, Valeo, Irizar, Denso, Kromberg & Schubert, Takata, Furukawa, TE connectivity, Daedong System, Hirschmann, and Magnetti Marelli, Comsaete, Parker, Clarton Horn, Deltrian, Inergy Automotive System, Varroc Lighting System, JTKET, and Processos Industriales Del Sur.

Companies and Employers with Local Presence

Toyota Ghana Company Limited, Kantanka Group, Koreana Bus Company Ltd, Nabus Motors, General American AutoParts, Agensix Ghana Ltd, Universal Motors Ghana Limited, Royal Motors Sales, Silver Star Mercedes-Benz, Kem-D Batteries, BA AutoParts, Auction Exports, Multix limited, Kosei Boeki Japanese Used Cars Exporter, International Modern Industry- AMCO limited, Autos Ghana Limited, M&B Acheampong Enterprise, AW Auto Parts Limited, Annewetey Auto Parts Ltd, Nissi Global Technologies, UncleFitter, VeHBa Technologies, Abossey Okai Online, Cnecta, Omnie, Solar Taxi Ghana, Trokxi, SinoTruck


  • My Years With General Motors by Alfred Sloan
  • Iacocca: An Autobiography
  • The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker
  • The Machine That Changed the World


  • Automotive Insights
  • Automotive News Daily Drive
  • The Smoking Tire
  • Car Stuff Show


  • Automobile Magazine
  • Motor Trend
  • Automotive Design & Production Magazine
  • Automotive Manufacturing Solutions Magazine


  • Flash of Genius
  • The Men Who Built America
  • Ford vs Ferrari
  • Tucker: The Man and His Dream


  • Frankfurt Motor Show
  • Auto Shanghai
  • West Africa Automotive Show
  • Tokyo Motor Show
  • Moroccan Automotive Industry Show
  • Tunisia Automotive

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