Even though this article mostly about South Africa, I have to kick off by saying; Ghana and Uganda are slowing becoming the continental leaders in the making of “African” cars. During this never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana’s car maker: Kantanka surprised many by announcing their brand new battery-operated car. The Kantanka EV. People who are hearing about these “African made” cars, keep asking: are these truly made in Africa? In my previous article on this issue, I found out that, “Kantanka’s vehicles are assembled in Ghana using custom-made CKD (Complete Knock Down) kits, that they ship in from Chinese suppliers.” You can read more about that here, on my blog article about African-made cars.
Making an entirely African-made car seems to be far away (for now). Luckily, we have CKD kits to keep us occupied for now. I say luckily, as long as we do not lose sight of the fact that one day Africa needs to graduate away from imported parts. Into full-on design and engineering! The chains of imported CKD kits shall need to be broken one day soon. Like a bicycle-loving toddler being stripped of his training wheels. We have the engineering minds, designers, and vast continental wealth! Let’s just work towards the other crucial skills and things we lack. So that we can start making our own cars, trains, and planes.
I applaud MINI South Africa, for their campaign where they took some highly talented South African artists and tasked them with the job of designing some limited edition Minis. One of those South African creatives was the talented designer Baba Tjeko, who is seen below talking about the project.
I still dream of the day that Africa can design, manufacture, and assemble its own cars. Vehicles that are designed by Africans, in Africa, for Africa. Until then, industry giants like MINI shall hold our hands and give us as insight on what’s possible in Africa. When Ferraris and all those other low-hanging supercars get made. Their form and factor suit the roads and desires of their creators. Even the production costs and high price tags, fit into the culture their built around. It’s not only about the price though. Making one own’s tools and instruments has always been the backbone of truly relatable innovation and progress.
The first time I ate fried grasshoppers I was over the moon! My family didn’t expect me to like then because I was the kind of kid that spent the earliest years of his life grossed-out by open fire braai meat. I could not understand why no one was using a pot or pan, instead of tossing all our meat on a make-shift wire mesh that somebody randomly picked off the ground. Things quickly changed when I took my first bites! It wasn’t long before I became the world’s biggest fan of braais. If I can do a braai every day of my life, I will. Nobody loves braai as much as I do now!
Grasshoppers, goat intestines, jollof rice, mupunga une dovi… Africa has its own everything. It’s own food, music genres, instruments, and culture. Unfortunately, the motherland is still lagging behind in the modern century’s technological innovation arena.