Killarney packs them in

Thousands of car freaks, racing fans and just plain adrenalin junkies poured into Killarney International Raceway on December 28 for the annual StreetFest in partnership with the City of Cape Town.

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It was an international celebration of car culture featuring top Drag Racers from all over South Africa and as far afield as Namibia taking on the best of Cape Town’s quarter-mile crew, as well as Drifting, an IASCA Sound-Off, a Show ‘n Shine competition that highlighted some of the prettiest and most outrageous customs in the Western Cape.

The Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Ian Neilson, braved the steep ladder to the commentary tower at the Drag Strip for the official opening of StreetFest 2019. He welcomed the visitors, local racers and the thousands of spectators lining both sides of the strip, saying that Cape Town, the Events Capital of Africa, was proud to host big motor sport events such as this, events that cater as much to grassroots enthusiasts as professional race crews.

There was music all day from the Coca Cola Gig Rig, a bewildering variety of good things to eat and drink, to wear and to upgrade your car, from custom wheels to high-quality suspension components and bolt-on custom bumpers, grilles and aero kits.

Most of the noise, the excitement and the tyre smoke, however, came from the Drag Strip, as top racers with screaming turbo-charged four-cylinder engines, howling sixes and thundering seven-litre V8s thrilled the crowds with huge burnouts before launching off the line to cover the 402 metres to the finish line as quickly as they could.

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Jannie Bezuidenhout’s Mk1 Golf prepares for a hot run.

It sounds simple, but the launch is crucial. Most drag races are won and lost in the first second of the run; as a combination of brute force and precision car control it is unmatched in any other form of motor sport.

The fastest time of the day was set by local hero Ralph Kumbier in Suspect, Shaheen Barmania’s twin-turbo Chev Lumina Ute bakkie, who laid down a superb 9,356 second pass at 227,68 km/h, closely followed by Shaun Zurich in his immaculately prepared Honda Civic, reputedly the quickest normally aspirated front-wheel drive car in Africa.

His best effort of 9,483 seconds at 230,95 km/h was good enough to win him Class OA for modified normally aspirated cars, well ahead of Hennie Watkins’ Toyota Corolla (11,173 seconds at 192,07 km/h) and Lyle Africa in a Honda CRX (11,195 seconds at 199,65 km/h).

Third overall, and second in Class OS for open force-fed machines, was Rudy Roode in an all-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf Mk2, with a 9,831 second pass at 234 79 km/h, just two hundredths of a second ahead of petite 20-year-old Yuresa ‘Yuri’ Naidoo from Durban, the fastest lady on the day in an Audi TTRS.

Sadly, Tiaan van der Merwe from Mpumalanga in Fireball – a mid-1970s Ford Escort with a seven-litre Chevrolet crate engine by Steve Schmidt of Indianapolis, Indiana – was unable to make good on his stated ambition of breaking into the nines on his first visit to the coast, although he came tantalisingly close with a best effort of 10,449 seconds at 187,92 km/h.

And that’s all motor, the commentators reminded the crowds, without forced induction or chemical assistance!

Even more disappointed was Shawn Dziire out of Johannesburg, who got even closer to the magic 10-second mark in his raucous turbo-charged BMW E30 with a 10,194 second pass at 195 423 km/h before its differential failed.

Class 4A went to Moeneeb Parker in a Nissan Champ bakkie with an 11,573 second run at 194,08 km/h, while Dziire made up for his Class OS disappointment by taking Class 4S in his Opel SuperBoss with a best effort of 11,814 seconds at 193,10 km/h and Class 6S was won by Herman Mostert in a Toyota Corolla fitted with a straight-six 2JZ engine, who laid down an astonishing 9,503 second pass at 223,76 km/h.

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Reece ‘Buddy’ Robertson’s Suzuki was the fastest bike on the day.

The quickest times of the day, as always, were set by the motorcycle competitors, led by Reece ‘Buddy’ Robertson, (Suzuki GSX-R1000) with a best run of 8,684 seconds at 254,78 km/h. He was the only rider into the eights on the day, well ahead of a pair of BMW S1000RRs in the hands of Edson Almeida and Irrvinne Bruinders (9 150 seconds at 250,43 km/h and 9, 453 seconds at 240 22 km/h respectively). Fourth was 16-year-old Stephen Lottering from Port Elizabeth, with a very creditable 9 528 second pass at 238, 76 on a brand new Kawasaki ZX-10R.

Top quad rider was Kyle Johannes (Yamaha Banshee), who caused a stir when he laid down the only sub 12 second run of the day on a quad at 11,967 seconds and 166 95 km/h.

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This superb Ford Mustang won its class in the Show ‘n Shine competition.

 

Saving our wildlife

The preservation of South Africa’s wildlife is an absolute no-brainer against mounting decimation for financial gain, sheer ignorance and outright stupidity – so it is equally vital organisations such as the Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) continues to support conservation.

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Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) continued its long-standing support for environmental and wildlife organisations with five new and eight existing conservation projects receiving Ford Ranger Double Cab 4×4 pickups, on a two-year loan, during 2019.

“The Ford Wildlife Foundation plays a crucial role in providing mobility for the wide-ranging and far-reaching conservation efforts across South Africa and its neighbouring countries,” says Neale Hill, MD of FMCSA.

“We currently have 25 Ford Rangers on loan to wildlife and conservation non-profit organisations throughout the region. By providing these projects with the exceptionally capable Ford Ranger, we are indeed living up to our ‘Go Further’ brand promise by helping these dedicated organisations, teams and individuals to protect our precious natural resources for future generations.

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“We are committed to making a positive difference through improving the lives of people, and strengthening the conservation of endangered animals and habitats. This is achieved by supporting education, research and conservation projects across Southern Africa,” Hill adds.

The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project was the first to receive its loan Ford Ranger this year, driving their efforts to protect the endangered Southern Ground-Hornbill. The Mabula project, which has been running for 19 years, operates in all four provinces where the Southern Ground-Hornbill occurs, comprising Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with the population estimated to be only 400 family groups remaining.

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Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) also received a Ford Ranger to assist the non-profit organisation in saving the last remnants of one of South Africa’s most endangered ecosystems. According to ORCT, the Renosterveld – located between Botrivier and Heidelberg in the Western Cape – boasts an exceptional variety of species, yet is teetering on the brink of functional extinction.

FWF also provided a Ford Ranger to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in Cape Town to assist the organisation in its efforts to rescue orphaned or injured seabirds, such as the endangered African penguin, Cape gannet, Cape cormorant and Bank cormorant.

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The Carnivore Conservation Programme created by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is now proudly powered by Ford too, as the Ranger pickup is used to protect and monitor South Africa’s most endangered carnivore – the African Wild Dog – which is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Another exciting project adopted into the FWF fold is the establishment of a new 30 000-ha Grasslands Protected Area in the rugged northern region of the Eastern Cape. Coordinated by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa), the project site is located in an isolated inland area with many mountain passes and mostly dirt roads, including the famous Naudé’s Nek Pass which peaks at 2 590 m, making it one of the highest passes in South Africa.

“The Ford Rangers, which are proudly produced at our Silverton plant in Pretoria, prove that they are truly ‘Built Ford Tough’ by conquering some of the most remote and challenging terrains across the region that these teams face in their unwavering commitment to ensure the sustainability of our fauna and flora,” says Hill.

Along with the new projects for 2019, FWF also renewed its support for eight existing initiatives as part of the two-year agreements, all of which received new replacement vehicles. This included the Sea Search Research and Conservation Project; Cederberg Leopard Project; Saving the Survivors that cares for injured or orphaned rhinos; the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project; Cheetah Metapopulation Project; Coral Reef Programme; SA Cranes, Wetlands and Communities Project; and the Important Bird Area (IBA) Critical Grasslands Project.

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 For more than 30 years, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has been actively involved in the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa (originally as the Mazda Wildlife Fund). To date, FMCSA has invested more than R40-million to support more than 170 conservation projects.

The Ford Wildlife Foundation is unique as it does not provide a cash donation to the conservation projects it supports, instead Ford’s partner organisations are equipped with Ford Rangers. The vehicles provided are used to help project operations, such as transporting field equipment, helping vets reach sick or poached animals, or translocating the animals themselves.

The vehicles operating in all Ford Wildlife Foundation projects are monitored and serviced by Ford’s extensive dealer network to ensure they operate at peak efficiency.

 

Adrenalin action at StreetFest

Cape Town is about a whole lot more than ‘The Mountain’ and some of the most stunning beaches in the world – and the entry list for the StreetFest on December 28 proves it is a city with a passion for fast cars and adrenalin action.

The StreetFest at Killarney International Raceway in partnership with the City of Cape Town looks like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the quickest quarter-milers in South Africa and beyond.

Among the 86 contenders, chosen from more than 100 entries, there are six cars and three motorcycles from Namibia, three from Shawn Dziire’s AirVolution Motorsport stable in Johannesburg, two more from Jannie Bezuidenhout in Pretoria, teenage National Drag Racing title contender Stephen Lottering on his Kawasaki ZX-6R, hot rookie Lenzey Henry from Springbok on a trick Suzuki GSX-R1000 and ex-Capetonian Rameez Ebrahim, now resident in Jozi but back for StreetFest 2019 with a killer Audi TT-RS.

Heading the charge, however, will be Tiaan van der Merwe, straight out of Mpumalanga in Fireball, a late-1970s MkII Ford Escort with a 434 cubic inch (7,1-litre) small block Chevy V8 by Steve Schmidt of Indianapolis, Indiana, rated at 850 horsepower.

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It is reputed to be the quickest naturally aspirated street-car in South Africa, consistently running low 10s inland, and Van der Merwe is bringing it to Killarney in search of that elusive first nine-second run.

Mayoral Committee member for Safety & Security, Alderman JP Smith says: “Cape Town has one of the most enthusiastic motor sport fan bases and this is evident by the numbers that descend on the Killarney International Raceway for every race event.

“As the City of Cape Town, we are proud to support events that contribute to our economy, provide opportunities for our residents while also giving petrol heads a platforms for more responsible racing instead of illegal street racing which unfortunately remains very prevalent on our roads, often with devastating consequences.

“We wish all the participants a safe race and we would like to encourage residents to head to Killarney to support the drivers. ”

There are many facets to Cape Town’s car culture, however, and most of them are represented at StreetFest.

You will see drifting on the Tar Oval, customised cars with incredible paint jobs, cars that sit so low on their suspension that they can only be driven in straight lines (their owners jack them up and adjust their ride height before driving to and from the event!), cars with sound systems that would put a recording studio to shame and cars with outrageous body kits that have less to do with aerodynamics than with image.

They all have one thing in common, however: They reflect the personality of their owners in a way that a standard model off the showroom floor never could.

Also in the New Pits Complex, you will find the computers and sound pressure meters of the IASCA Sound-Off. These enthusiasts take their sport (and it is a world-recognised sport) very seriously indeed. Pretty has nothing to do with it and many of the cars clearly reflect their backyard origins.

Nevertheless, with a bank of batteries feeding multi-kilowatt amplifiers through cables as thick as your thumb, all the windows closed and nobody in the car, they can produce a single tone louder than a jet fighter on take-off.

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Image: Extreme Car Sound

StreetFest is not only about cars, It is also about the people who love them – petrolheads of all ages – with a children’s play area below the New Pits Lounge as well as dozens of food and beverage stalls, and vendors offering motoring-related merchandise.

Gates open at 6:30 am on Saturday 28 (with Sunday 29 December pencilled in as rain date). There will be on-track action from 9:00 am, as well as the Sound-Off and displays from 10:00 am to around 5:00 pm. Book through Computicket at https://tickets.computicket.com/event/street_fest_2019/7120896/7120915/69693 or pay at the gate: R90 for adults, R40 for scholars under 16 and free for children under 12.

Peugeot and Chrysler merge

The deed is done!

Peugeot (Groupe PSA) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have agreed to a 50/50 merger to create the world’s fourth largest OEM by volume and third largest by revenue.

Carlos Tavares, PSA (left) and Mike Manley, FCA
Carlos Tavares (left) and Mike Manly

The proposed combination will be an industry entity with the management, capabilities, resources and scale to successfully capitalise on the opportunities presented by the new era in sustainable mobility.

With its combined financial strength and skills, the merged entity will be particularly well placed to provide innovative, clean and sustainable mobility solutions, both in a rapidly urbanising environment and in rural areas around the world. The gains in efficiency derived from larger volumes, as well as the benefits of uniting the two companies’ strengths and core competencies, will ensure the combined business can offer all its customers best-in-class products, technologies and services and respond with increased agility to the shift taking place in this highly demanding sector.

While Chrysler/Jeep and Peugeot do well enough in their respective home markets, the Fiat arm is still something of a concern in terms of serious sales and one can only wonder what the future might bring for both Fiat and Alfa Romeo.

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The combined company will have annual unit sales of 8,7-million vehicles, with revenues of nearly €170 billion, recurring operating profit of more than €11-billion and an operating profit margin of 6.6%, all on a simple aggregated basis of 2018 results.

According to the joint statement released following the signing: “The combined entity will have a balanced and profitable global presence with a highly complementary and iconic brand portfolio covering all key vehicle segments from luxury, premium, and mainstream passenger cars through to SUVs and trucks and light commercial vehicles.

“This will be underpinned by FCA’s strength in North America and Latin America and Groupe PSA’s solid position in Europe. The new Group will have much greater geographic balance with 46% of revenues derived from Europe and 43% from North America, based on aggregated 2018 figures of each company. The combination will bring the opportunity for the new company to reshape the strategy in other regions.

“The efficiencies that will be gained from optimising investments in vehicle platforms, engine families and new technologies while leveraging increased scale will enable the business to enhance its purchasing performance and create additional value for stakeholders. More than two-thirds of run rate volumes will be concentrated on two platforms, with approximately 3-million cars a year on each of the small platform and the compact/mid-size platform.

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“These technology, product and platform-related savings are expected to account for approximately 40% of the total €3.7 billion in annual run-rate synergies, while purchasing – benefiting principally from scale and best price alignment – will represent a further estimated 40% of the synergies.

“Other areas, including marketing, IT, G&A and logistics, will account for the remaining 20%. These synergy estimates are not based on any plant closures resulting from the transaction. It is projected the estimated synergies will be net cash flow positive from year one and approximately 80% of the synergies will be achieved by year four. The total one-time cost of achieving the synergies is estimated at €2,8-billion.

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“Those synergies will enable the combined business to invest significantly in the technologies and services that will shape mobility in the future while meeting the challenging global CO2 regulatory requirements. With an already strong global R&D footprint, the combined entity will have a robust platform to foster innovation and further drive development of transformational capabilities in new energy vehicles, sustainable mobility, autonomous driving and connectivity.

The merged entity will have a Board comprised of 11 members, the majority of whom will be independent. Five Board members will be nominated by FCA and its reference shareholder (including John Elkann as Chairman) and five will be nominated by Groupe PSA and its reference shareholders (including the Senior Non-Executive Director and the Vice Chairman). At closing the Board will include two members representing FCA and Groupe PSA employees. Carlos Tavares will be Chief Executive Officer for an initial term of five years and will also be a member of the Board.

“Carlos Tavares, Mike Manley and their executive teams have a strong track record in successfully turning around companies and combining OEMs with diverse cultures. This experience will support the speed of execution of the merger, underpinned by the companies’ strong recent performances and already robust balance sheets. The merged entity will maneuver with speed and efficiency in an automotive industry undergoing rapid and fundamental changes,” says the statement.

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Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Board of Groupe PSA, said: “Our merger is a huge opportunity to take a stronger position in the auto industry as we seek to master the transition to a world of clean, safe and sustainable mobility and to provide our customers with world-class products, technology and services. I have every confidence that with their immense talent and their collaborative mindset, our teams will succeed in delivering maximized performance with vigor and enthusiasm.”

Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer of FCA, added: “This is a union of two companies with incredible brands and a skilled and dedicated workforce. Both have faced the toughest of times and have emerged as agile, smart, formidable competitors. Our people share a common trait – they see challenges as opportunities to be embraced and the path to making us better at what we do.”

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Qashqai gets Connect 2.0

Once upon a time a new car launch or model upgrade was all about the engine, the power and the handling but, in this modern digital world ‘connectivity’ takes centre stage – as it does with the refreshed Nissan Qashqai range now with NissanConnect 2.0.

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Nissan South Africa has this to say about it: “NissanConnect is an advanced infotainment system that enhances the relationship between you and your vehicle through the seamless and intuitive integration of your smartphone with your Qashqai. With a host of features that make every day commuting and communicating even more of a breeze, the NissanConnect 2.0 infotainment system now allows you to connect and interact with your car like never before.”

In terms of the car upgrades – the range now gets Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Blind Spot Warning and Intelligent Cross Traffic Alert; features previously available only on the Tekna derivative.

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The Tekna is also upgraded and now offers a CVT (continuously variable transmission) along with Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Moving Object Detection and On-Board Navigation.

The refreshed range now boasts a streamlined five-model range, with NissanConnect 2.0 and NIM features as standard from the Acenta grade upwards. Prices for the latest Nissan Qashqai, with NissanConnect 2.0, start at R358 100.

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NissanConnect 2.0 comes standard with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a rear-view camera, which allows for safer, more confident parking and helps avoid unwanted scratches and dents on the rear bumper.

First for Continental Tyre SA

The growing popularity of SUV-style vehicles and larger option tyres have led to a South African first for Continental Tyre SA, which has now produced its first 19-inch tyre.

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Previously the Continental Tyre plant in Port Elizabeth had the capacity to manufacture up to 18-inch tyre sizes, with the launch of the 19-inch General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyre representing a significant achievement for the domestic operations.

“Local production of the first-ever 19-inch tyre in the Port Elizabeth plant opens the door for our further expansion in the crucial replacement tyre business, and prepares Continental Tyre for new opportunities in the 19-inch original equipment business,” says Shaun Uys, MD of Continental Tyre SA.

“In the past, we had to import these tyres from other plants around the world. By producing them locally we are bolstering our manufacturing capacity, improving our economies of scale, and are able to respond to growing customer demand for the larger-diameter tyres, specifically in the increasingly popular sport utility vehicle segment,” Uys adds.

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The original concept for local production of the 19-inch tyre was born at the Port Elizabeth plant in 2017, and presented to management during the Plant Operations Review towards the end of the year.

Following the extensive global and local approval processes, the ordering and introduction of the necessary tooling for stock preparation, tyre building and final finish followed. The first experimental tyre was built in early 2019, and mainstream production of the new 255/55 R19 Grabber AT3 commenced in the second quarter, with volumes steadily increasing to satisfy the growing customer demand.

The General Grabber AT3 all-terrain tyre was developed to meet the needs of sport utility, light commercial and off-road vehicle drivers who require a combination of exceptional off-road capabilities and confident on-road manners. This innovative new tyre size is ideally suited to a wide range of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) fitted with large diameter lower-profile 19-inch tyres as original equipment, including the likes of the BMW X5, Ford Everest, Land Rover Discovery, and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

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The pattern design achieves exceptional off-road grip through gripping edges that interlock with loose surfaces. The open tread ensures efficient self-cleaning action for added traction in mud.

Tread with robust compound and reinforced blocks ensures a long tyre life even in rugged terrain. Moreover, it delivers confident stability under all approved load conditions with ultra-high strength steel belts.

Uniform block geometry for even material distribution and optimised tread block orientation for a smooth interaction with the surface: both features allow a considerably comfortable and pleasant on-road drive in an all-terrain tyre line.

 

Africa flexes automotive muscle

Africa is beginning to flex its automotive muscle and the past year has seen significant activity by some local automakers to involve themselves in the growing new market – Volkswagen, in particular, has been active and then are developments such as the planned Peugeot assembly operation in Namibia.

To capitalise on, and co-ordinate, this growth, Kigali, Rwanda has been identified as the host for the inaugural annual African Automotive Manufacturing Symposium aimed at facilitating the development of an intra-African automotive manufacturing supply chain.

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This ministerial level symposium, which is endorsed by the African Union, will facilitate outcomes based dialogue between key role-players concerned with Africa’s automotive industrialisation and the journey towards sustainable economic growth.

Organisers have confirmed the event will take place over two days at the Kigali International Convention Centre in Rwanda, on July 22-23, 2020.

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Inkanyezi Events Pty Ltd CEO, Andrew Binning said the symposium was unique in its focus on actual automotive manufacturing.

“The rise of income levels in many African countries and the emergence of a middle class makes Africa the final frontier for the global automotive industry.

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“What is essential is regional integration is developed to ensure manufacturing capability and jobs are created in African countries and the continent is the beneficiary of this market opportunity and not simply a dumping ground for used, or cheap imported vehicles,” he says.

“Trade and Investment Ministers from relevant African countries will present their policies, goals and plans for the future of the automotive and manufacturing industry;  while automotive and investment organisations will share ways in which they would support these plans”

The symposium is set to become a highlight on the African trade calendar from its inaugural edition in Rwanda  and could rotate to other African host countries. The symposium and networking engagements are the key features of the event but premium exhibition space is also available.

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Binning said interested manufacturers, material providers, service companies, support and funding agencies should contact the organisers for opportunities to reach the African manufacturing collective.

“The African Free trade Agreement and the widely accepted benefits of regional integration, synergy and intra-African trade position this high-level inter-ministerial symposium to produce a collective understanding around how participating countries and their industries, with support of global automotive manufacturers and funding partners, can benefit and contribute,” says Binning.

AU Trade and Investment Commissioner Albert Muchanga said the AU had prioritised regional development.

“The unit is promoting regional value chains particularly the development of the automotive industry, which has the ability to contribute to the employment and structural growth challenges of the continent.”