Volkswagen’s Martina Biene Emerges African Association of Automotive Manufacturers’ President

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Chairperson and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA), Ms Martina Biene, has been elected as the new president of the African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM).

She was chosen to take over the leadership of the organisation, established in November 2015, from Mr Mike Whitfield, who has been president since July 2020.

AAAM is the only African body focusing on the expansion and deepening of the automotive industry across the continent, by working with governments to shape policies that will attract investors to unlock the economic potential of the continent and align a global network of stakeholders, committed to the development of the automotive industry in Africa.

Speaking on her new role, Ms Biene said, “I became passionate about Africa after completing an internship in Cape Town before joining Volkswagen in Germany.

“My career has allowed me to return to Africa to help with the industrialisation of Africa through the automotive industry which will help to create opportunities and sustainable jobs.

“I am thankful for the work that Mike and the AAAM team have done to date and I am humbled to be able to play a key role through AAAM to grow the automotive manufacturing industry from 1.1 million vehicles a year today to some 3.5 million or even 5 million by 2035.”

Ms Biene has over 20 years of experience in the automotive industry having joined Volkswagen in 2001 where she held multiple roles in the company in Sales, Marketing, Product Planning and Product Marketing for Luxury Vehicles and the Volkswagen Brand in Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and South Africa.

In 2018 she was appointed as the head of the Volkswagen Brand in South Africa, but returned to Germany in 2020 to take up the position of Head of the Small and Compact Vehicle line, returning to South Africa in November 2022 to take up her current position.

AAAM’s role and importance in developing the automotive industry has also been recognised by the private sector which has resulted in its membership growing from some 17 members in 2020 to the current 63 members.

During the tenure of the immediate past leader of the group, Mr Whitfield, a Continental Automotive Strategy and Implementation Plan was developed in conjunction with the AfCFTA Secretariat, Africa Union (AU), UNECA, Afreximbank and ARSO.

It was adopted as a living document by the AfCFTA Council of Ministers at a meeting in Botswana in February 2023.

An AfCFTA Automotive Task Force has been formed to oversee, guide and implement this Strategy under the supervision of the Council of Ministers with the immediate priority to resolve the Rules of Origin.

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