The National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) has trained 20,000 youths on mechatronics to ensure that the country has skilled labour to support its automotive transformation.
Mr Jelani Aliyu, the Director-General, NADDC, said in Abuja on Tuesday at a news conference that the training was through the N-Power Graduate Skills Acquisition Programme, a youth empowerment scheme sponsored by the Federal Government of Nigeria. (N-Power addresses the challenge of youth unemployment by providing a structure for large-scale and relevant work skills acquisition and development while linking its core and outcomes to fixing inadequate public services and stimulating the larger economy).
Aliyu said the Federal Government in 2013 launched the Nigerian Automotive Industrial Development Plan and that one of the cardinal elements was skills development and promotion.
Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary branch of engineering that focuses on the engineering of both electrical and mechanical systems.
It also includes a combination of robotics, electronics, computer, telecommunications, systems control and product engineering.
He said that most mechanics in the country were not qualified as they also use sub-standard materials for their work, but with the training of the youths such vices will be curbed.
He disclosed that in order to achieve the mandate, the Council embarked on many programmes and projects aimed at skills upgrade in the automotive sector in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.
He noted that, Nigerians spend about eight billion dollars annually on the importation of vehicles:
“About eight billion dollars goes to overseas for importation of vehicles while Nigerians are suffering, also most of the used vehicles imported are unsafe and not good for the citizens.’’
He said that the Council had put in place incentives that would discourage the importation of cars into the country, adding that the government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Volkswagen group to develop an automotive hub in Nigeria.
The MoU was a major step toward the development of a robust automotive industry to contribute to the continuous economic development of the country.
According to him, the focus of the Council was to promote local production and, in line with such, would build seven automobile training centres across the country.
He said although the main challenge the country had was lack of infrastructure, it would soon be addressed as the Council was doing a lot to change Nigeria’s automotive industry. Part of it was working with relevant stakeholders to provide a vehicle financing scheme so Nigerians would not have to put down 100 percent cash when buying new cars.
Furthermore, the Council would build three test centres in Lagos, Enugu and Zaria to make sure that the cars and components produced, sold and used in the country are world standard.
Amaka E. Nliam