Isuzu East Africa has marked the production of 100,000 vehicles in its assembly plant since commencement of operations in 1977.
Speaking at the production milestone celebration, Isuzu E.A Managing Director Rita Kavashe said, “Today, we are saying a big thank you to all our loyal customers over the years for helping us to reach this special milestone. As our way of saying Asante, we shall be announcing a raft of rewards for our customers over the next three months so that we can celebrate this milestone together.”
The assembly plant was launched in 1975 when the Kenyan government saw the need to grow the manufacturing sector, create employment for citizens and create a new source of revenue for the government. A joint venture between General Motors and the government led to the construction of an assembly plant on Mombasa Road, that commenced production of Isuzu trucks in 1977. In 2017, the company changed its name to Isuzu East Africa following the acquisition of the General Motors stake by Isuzu Motors Japan.
The company has experienced a significant bounce back from the COVID-19 economic disruption with increased orders from customers in different sectors. This includes buyers in the agriculture sector, retail, distribution of fast-moving consumer goods and last mile deliveries of merchandise. In 2020 Isuzu E.A sold 4,340 units driven by strong demand from SME customers and the Government’s COVID-19 economic stimulus package. The automotive sector was among the eight sectors selected for support with Ksh. 600 million budgeted to purchase locally assembled vehicles.
Speaking at the ceremony to mark the Isuzu East Africa assembly milestone, the Director Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Mr. George Makateto said, “The government is keen on growing local manufacturing which in 2020 contributed only 3.2% to the GDP, compared to accommodation and food which contributed 10.3 %,” he observed. “I wish to congratulate Isuzu East Africa for achieving this key milestone and for consistently contributing to the growth of local motor vehicle assembly.”
This milestone achieved by Isuzu East Africa reinforces the possibility of Kenya as a primary source of locally assembled vehicles for the Eastern African region. Kenya’s three assembly plants have a combined potential output of 34,000 units per year but instead are producing a paltry 6,000 units, accounting to less than 20% of the production capacity. The Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMIA) estimates that local assemblers operating at full capacity would create an additional 50,000 jobs and contribute over Ksh. 50 billion in taxes every year.