Why GM’s African chief is smiling

Vehicle manufacturer General Motors’ aggressive expansion plans for Sub-Saharan Africa are starting to take shape.

The company yesterday announced that overall vehicle sales in the region have grown by 38.6% during the first five months of 2011 versus the same period last year.

“We are making great progress and are on track to realise our plans to grow volume significantly in Sub-Saharan Africa,” commented Edgar Lourencon, president and managing director of GM Sub-Saharan Africa.

Earlier this year GM said that it had re-organised the business in Africa to support its grand ambitions for the continent. GM’s Sub-Saharan Africa market covers 41 countries with assembly facilities in South Africa and Kenya. The regional headquarters is in South Africa.

So far in 2011, GM has seen exceptionally strong growth in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa. The company has identified Nigeria, Angola, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya and Senegal as the countries with the greatest potential.

GM’s brands in Sub-Saharan Africa include Chevrolet, Opel and Isuzu.

In Kenya the firm is investing in the upgrading of a bus assembly plant. This is to capitalise on recently implemented legislation that encourages the use of higher-occupancy busses.

Lourencon said that with a population of around 800 million and a growing middle class, the region “represents a great opportunity for General Motors”.