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GM restructures Africa operations

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 5 – Auto dealer General Motors (GM) is in the process of a structural re-organisation that is set to improve the operational efficiency of the giant carmaker.

In Africa, GM has divided the continent into two markets with North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, which comprises 40 countries.

GM President for Africa Edgar Lourencon said on Tuesday that the automaker would be integrating GM East Africa and GM Southern Africa, to take advantage of the market potential.

“We are leveraging on the resources of the two regions to make sure as a company we are able to deliver great products and superior services across the region in sub-Saharan region,” Mr Lourencon said. 

With the reorganisation, sub-Saharan activities will be coordinated from South Africa while the North Africa operations will be headed from Egypt.

Mr Lourencon said GM views Africa as the next frontier for growth with 165,000 new units having been sold in 2010, a year of revive for the carmaker, which also posted profits after the financial crisis.

As part of the reforms, the company last week announced that it had appointed Rita Kavashe as Managing Director of its East Africa operations replacing Bill Lay who retired having served at the helm for ten years.

Her elevation also came with the added responsibility as Export Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ms Kavashe said that with the merger of operations in sub-Saharan Africa, the company was looking at growing car sales within the region by ten percent annually.

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She said that GM East Africa managed to export 6,000 units in 2010 but was looking to grow the number to 20,000 by 2017.

“We are going to continue that growth which will be added by the unique services that we can now offer our customers borrowed from the experience from South African region,” Ms Kavashe said.

One growth area GM has identified is in the public service vehicle segment. Ms Kavashe said that as the country begins the phasing out of 14-seater vehicles for higher occupancy buses, GM was looking to a play a critical role in that space.

“It is a key competitive opportunity for us to participate and we are going to spend a lot of our time and effort to grow our business in that area,” she said.

GM East Africa operates three key brands, Isuzu, Chevrolet and Opel in the region. It also operates the sports utility vehicle brand Hummer.

Mr Lourencon said the integration with the southern Africa region would also open up consumers in the region to other brands that were previously not available to them.

“The focus is to make sure that for each market we provide great products that the market is looking for and superior services,” he said.

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