- Joins hands with UNIDO to spearhead TVET programs
On its 10-year anniversary since joining the Ethiopian auto business, Lifan Motors Group, one of the largest Chinese automakers with an auto assembly plant in Ethiopia, is poised to launch an automotive training academy in Ethiopia.
Mark Ma, general manager of Lifan Motors Ethiopia, told The Reporter that currently the group is facilitating linkages for short-term training opportunities to Ethiopian mechanics with universities in China, who are currently taking automotive courses at different Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools in the country.
The general manager noted that new academy is a long-term plan Lifan Motors was eyeing for years. However, to create a smooth transition in establishing the academy, the company is poised to provide internships, short term trainings and assist students secure scholarships in China, Ma said.
On the other hand, running a USD 10 million auto assembly line and service station, Lifan Motors is joining the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to provide internships and short-term automotive trainings in Ethiopia. Back in November, during the UN general assembly, Lifan Motors was selected as an exemplary company for industry-TVET and university linkages, Ma said. A follow up to that, the carmaker has agreed with the Ministry of Science and Technology here to provide practical trainings. From the current fiscal year, on monthly basis, Lifan Motors will accept some 100 TVET students specializing in the auto mechanics filed. Such activities according to Ma are part of the company’s effort to build a brand name and fulfill its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
On Wednesday, Ma and his team visited Muday Charity Organization, a local NGO which hosts 1,000 impoverished children and their parents. In addition to providing financial assistance to the organization, Lifan Motors took some of the children to its factory for motivational tour. Ma pledged to provide further assistance and create jobs and avail scholarship opportunities for younger kids in the future.
In its 10 years of business in Ethiopia, Lifan Motors has assembled and sold some 7,000 units and plans to sell another 1,000 units this year. Further expanding in Ethiopia, the company currently is on a move to erect its own headquarters which is expected to double as a showroom and after sales service facility. According to Ma, the new building will serve the East African markets as whole. The USD six million project will sit on 5,500 square meters of plot the company has secured in Addis Ababa.
The assembly plant Lifan Motors leased in the Eastern Industry Zone at Dukem town, Oromia Regional State, has a capacity of assembling 2000 units per year. However, company officials often argue that due to lack of hard currency the production capacity has been crippled and that it is limited to assembling only 500 knock down units a year. 200 jobs could have been created so far; yet only 50 have been created again due to foreign currency shortages; and the currency devaluation measure which took effect recently is also another headache to the company’s operation here.