Motoring Africa: Sustainable Automotive Industrialization

Building Entrepreneurs, Creating Jobs, and Driving the World’s Next Economic Miracle

Edward T. Hightower

Book Summary

What’s the story?:

Motoring Africa is a forward-looking and actionable business book. It makes the case and offers a roadmap for investing in and building manufacturing businesses on the African continent. Industrialization creates the conditions for efficient and profitable local manufacturing. Sustainable industrialization creates these conditions while maximizing the positive impact on the community and minimizing the negative impact on the environment. Sustainably industrializing automobile production has a job creation multiplier effect. To create an automobile, 30,000 complex parts must each be designed, engineered, and manufactured, in part by individual supplier companies. The result is new local opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and job seekers. Also, since Africa’s growing population and middle class will need more cars, either to own or use as part of shared mobility services, Motoring Africa recommends increasing the local manufacturing of cars and components instead of importing them. Skills learned in the local development and manufacture of automobiles can later be applied to the local development and manufacture of other, less complex, consumer and industrial products.


Why it matters:

The time for a book like Motoring Africa is now. Africa is growing. Many forecasters expect several African nations to comprise the world’s next economic miracle, similar to China or India of the last three decades. The continent’s approximately one billion population is expected to double by the year 2050. By the year 2034, the continent is expected to have a working age population greater than that of India or China. This growing population and growing middle class will need jobs and transportation. Motoring Africa’s main argument is that advancing value-added manufacturing of complex products, like automobiles, on the African continent can be a sound investment and financially sustainable way to create large numbers of local job opportunities at all skill levels.

Sustainably industrializing automobile production is also aligned with the United Nations seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most specifically, this movement would have the greatest positive impact on the following three goals:

  • SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

For business leaders from a business leader – Who Motoring Africa is for:

I am neither a development economist, academic, or journalist. I have written this book from the perspective of an experienced, hands-on industry operator and leader. Motoring Africa is for:

  • Global business leaders looking for growth opportunities that can also have a positive impact
  • Global automotive OEM and supplier executives, strategic planners, and corporate development professionals
  • Investment community – investment bankers, family offices, commercial banks, private equity and venture capital professionals, impact investors
  • Local African business leaders looking to innovate and for new opportunities
  • African heads of state, government leaders, and ministers of – industry, trade, finance, infrastructure, energy, and education
  • Entrepreneurs
  • International development and development financial institutions (DFIs)
  • University faculty and students
  • Persons interested in sustainable manufacturing
  • Persons with a general interest in emerging markets
  • Persons interested in investing in the sustainable success of Africa


How Motoring Africa is different

Many books that cover Africa only treat the continent as a problem statement. Motoring Africa is a forward-looking, actions and solutions-oriented book. It presents a roadmap of specific strategies and actions that companies, investors, and governments should take to participate in this opportunity. Unique topics include:

  • The difference between assembly, manufacturing, and industrialization
  • The cost structure and financial benefits of industrialization
  • How the automotive industry works and how to create a vehicle
  • Which African countries and cities to focus automotive industrialization efforts
  • Examples from emerging markets in Asia and Latin America
  • The ten steps for how to industrialize sustainably in an emerging market
  • Which products to build locally
  • Which of the 30,000 vehicle parts in the supply chain to localize
  • Forming public private partnerships with local governments
  • How local African ingenuity and innovation can contribute to the global auto industry
  • Implementing Industry 4.0 and Auto 2.0 tools and technologies
  • How to finance the new industrial venture
  • Mitigating the risks


After the book

Motoring Africa is not just the title of this book, it is a movement. Throughout my career as an engineering and business leader in the global automotive industry, I have helped automakers succeed in China, India, South Korea, Brazil, and Mexico. I have personally seen how automotive industrialization has helped transform the economies and living standards in these markets. It is my plan to help manufacturers, investors, and local economies also succeed at automotive industrialization in Africa; and do so sustainably. I am looking for great partners to join me on this journey.