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Kantanka Automobile: Innovator lacking innovative business models

Kantanka Automobile: Innovator lacking innovative business models
Kantanka Mensah Sedan

Kantanka Automobile is one of the indigenous companies that a lot has been said about, and much has come from. Talk about television sets that respond to hand waves and hand claps, to vehicles that issue vocal commands in local dialects. Impressive, if you ask me. However, has much been done to make the company commercially viable?

Lots of people have spoken about the need for state sponsorship of the efforts of Apostle Safo Kantanka. But is it being a case of successive Ghanaian governments showing apathy in the face of possibilities, or is it simply an issue of them seeing nothing feasible worth investing tax payers’ money into?

Kantanka Automobile — the story so far

Apostle Safo Kantanka has been an inventor for well over 30 years, however the automobile company was only launched in 2015. It currently has five vehicle models; the Kantanka K71, the Kantanka Onantefo, the Kantanka Amoanimaa, and the Kantanka Mensah as well as a pickup truck Kantanka Omama — with two variants. The lowest price to shell out for a vehicle is GHc80,000 (Kantanka Amoanimaa).

Kantanka Automobile: Innovator lacking innovative business models 1
Kantanka Omama Regular

A business model gone amiss

These prices are normal, except for one thing; they are obviously aimed at an upper class of Ghanaians or clientele. And this is where the company’s woes begin as they seem to have been shunned by the very people their automobiles should appeal to — so as to make massive sales.

In Ghana currently, foreign used cars are a thing. 90% of the young population have one of such as the first automobile they buy. The average prices range between GHc30,000 and GHc50,000. With such amounts and the ability to bargain, one can get a really good car at a lower price to last them the next six years.

Lots of car owners these days work within the ride sharing industry. Bolt, Uber, and more recently, Yango, have provided some respite for otherwise unemployed youth to earn decent incomes. That aside, some are into delivery services. These are the people Kantanka Automobile should be producing cars for, and not the elite who only want Ferraris and Mercedes Benz rides with the status upgrade they come with.

In Italy, Fiat Automobiles is the largest automobile manufacturer in the country, and guess what… they are known for small sized vehicles with great fuel economy. If you truly want to be the market leader then, you have to be accessible to those who don’t have too much to have fun with.

Sectors to focus on

Successive governments in Ghana have been doing well to get the youth involved in agriculture, and this could provide an opportunity for Kantanka Automobile to claim a foothold. From farm tractors to trucks for carting the farm produce to market centers and cities, there is possibility of a market if only Kantanka can get started in that direction.

Kantanka Automobile is ignoring the class of people it should be aiming to do business with, while focusing on an upper class that has nothing but apathy for it.

Also, there are lots of tricycles in the system now being used by sachet water producers and garbage disposal services. Nothing stops Kantanka from producing specialized trucks for the garbage disposal businesses and also for the sachet water distributors. Because if I see a water distribution truck that looks different from one used for garbage disposal, I’d feel a lot safer; knowing it wasn’t previously a garbage truck that was resprayed to look new. That’s a win.

Last to be suggested has to do with healthcare delivery. Non-availability of ambulances is an issue that plagues healthcare delivery in this country. Lately, we’ve seen improvised ambulances made from tricycles. In fact, Nigeria’s Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing has some of those aside the standard ambulance models to serve rural areas or wherever they are needed.

Kantanka Automobile: An innovator lacking an innovative business model
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Tricycle Ambulance

Role government should play in this

There’s quite a number of things the Government of Ghana can do to help establish Kantanka Automobile as a producer of vehicles in the country. Nigeria’s Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing was given a boost by a 2013 automotive policy that discouraged the importation of wholly assembled automobiles. That aside, federal institutions and the governments of some states have been using Innoson vehicles as their official rides. Perhaps a similar thing can be implemented here in Ghana — not only for Kantanka Automobile, but to encourage and spark an automobile manufacturing industry in Ghana.

Secondly, government should be supportive by making the official vehicles of some state institutions come from the assembly plants of Kantanka. Strangely enough, Apostle Safo’s own daughter Adwoa Safo is the Minister in charge of Government Procurement, so as to why some Kantanka vehicles haven’t been duly procured for state use baffles my mind.

Also, the costs of spare parts and things related to vehicle ownership here in Ghana are murderous. Government needs to do a lot to make it easier to own and operate automobiles in Ghana by placing subsidies or waiving certain duty charges at the ports.

To conclude

Kantanka Automobile has potential for growth and dominance on the local scene. What is stopping it now is the niche it’s carved for itself. The prevailing economic conditions would not permit a young worker to get a car for GHc80,000 when they can get a foreign used big name model for significantly less than that.

If government hasn’t made the effort to stand with Kantanka after all these decades, it’s because it doesn’t see a sustainable business model to invest taxpayers’ money in. There’s a lot of homework that has to be done so that Ghanaians at large would agree the company needs state investment as well as policies to benefit from.

Knowing your market and tailoring your services to meet their needs is how companies dominate industries or sectors. There’s much Kantanka needs to learn in that regard. The wealthy people have acquired tastes — and that is not you. The real market cannot afford what you have available.

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