Automotive technology company Autochek on Wednesday said it has kickstarted operations in Accra, Ghana to “support the delivery of technology solutions for one of Africa’s most advanced automotive markets.”
This follows a $3.4 million pre-seed funding raise in November 2020, which the company said it planned to use in growing its Nigeria and Ghana operations as well as its teams in both markets.
Building on the work Cheki Ghana (acquired by Autochek in September 2020) has done over the last decade, Autochek is combining technology and data to create a single marketplace for car sales, car loans, and car repairs in Ghana, it said in a press release sent to Arbiterz.
Consumers in Ghana can now buy cars and access car loans via the Autochek app, iOS app (coming soon), or website, knowing that every listed car has undergone a 150-point inspection process.
The inspection service can also be used for cars outside the Autochek network and the company has said it will enable more effective sourcing and affordable car loans, as well as car repairs and warranties.
Autochek has also onboarded auto dealers and auto workshops from across the country who can now rely on consistent leads that have been filtered to validate their interest. Car owners can book maintenance and repairs via the app and the website with the confidence that their cars will be in the hands of standardised workshops and technicians from Autochek’s partner network.
“By focusing on the needs of both customers and dealers, Autochek is building an ecosystem of solutions that will deliver an unrivalled customer experience,” it said.
Advanced but fragmented industry
Ghana is home to one of the most advanced automotive industries in Africa but “there is still some work to be done, especially with regards to the day to day experience for consumers, dealers, and workshops,” Autochek’s Head of Business Operations in Ghana Yvonne Ahlie said.
“The fragmentation of the industry means most players are operating in silos and are not able to reap the full benefits of what the market has to offer. (And) there is also a dearth of comprehensive data that dealers and workshops can use to underpin business decisions and this is impacting their performance.
“This is where Autochek will make a difference by combining data and technology to transform the automotive transaction ecosystem and enable excellence across the value chain,” she added.
Opportunities with new automotive policy
Ghana’s automotive industry has experienced significant change as a result of the 2019 Ghana Automotive Development Policy which aims to attract investment into the industry, encourage local manufacturing and make affordable vehicles more readily available.
One of the aims of the policy is to reduce the heavy reliance on used vehicles. The average number of imported vehicles in the country stands at over 100,000 per year, of which about 90 percent are used. Imported used cars are estimated to be worth $1.14 billion per annum, accounting for 12 percent of the country’s import bill, and constitute the top single import item.
The new policy, which bans the importation of vehicles more than 10 years old, is projected to cost the government an estimated $143 million in customs revenue between 2019-2022. But the country can make up the shortfall thanks to investments from global carmakers attracted by the policy’s tax incentives.
The country’s attempts to develop a car industry hub in West Africa seem to be paying off. As of October last year, a string of the world’s biggest automakers including Volkswagen, Toyota, and Nissan were investing in vehicle assembly plants in Ghana.
With more cars being built locally, there is an opportunity to create more jobs and improve technical expertise in the automotive industry in Ghana and across Africa. “We are excited to be in Ghana and to be part of the ecosystem,” said Etop Ikpe, CEO and Co-Founder of Autochek.
“The government is doing a lot of great work to support the automotive industry but there is also a need to make sure that vehicles meet a certain standard before they are bought or sold locally. This is where we hope to bring our expertise to create an effective and efficient marketplace for everybody,” the chief executive added.
There has been an increase in demand for tech-enabled solutions as people and businesses respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges that have come with it. Acknowledging this, Ikpe stated that Autochek’s “tech-enabled approach will enable a better customer experience and facilitate transparency and ease of doing business, which in turn translates to increase in transactions and more efficient business operations.”
Over the next year, Autochek aims to onboard more than 500 dealers and workshops across various cities in Ghana, making it easier for Ghanaians across the country to access the automotive services they need.