The name Ezekiel Izuogu comes to mind as I remember an attempt by a Nigerian to design a car, I mean a car.
Dr Izuogu, an electrical-electronics engineer was a former lecturer in Communications and electronics engineering, Federal Polytechnic, Owerri, Nigeria. His major breakthrough in his engineering endeavor was the design and construction of the first ever locally made car: the Z-600.
First, the car was launched:
BBC News, Friday, April 17, 1998
*The all-African dream machine
It’s African, it’s new and it’s different. The latest – and the first – in the Z series, the Z-600, is the first ever all-African car, reports the BBC’s correspondent in Lagos, Hilary Andersson.
It was designed and made in Nigeria for the family market and has a top speed of 140km (86m) an hour.
Ninety per cent of its parts are locally produced – it has a doorbell for a horn. And if it ever goes into mass production it will cost just $2,000 (£1,195), making it the most affordable car in Africa – and probably the world.
Then everyone got interested in the idea: T’was majorly South Africa.
Business Day News, Wednesday, February 8, 2006
*S/Africa to acquire rights to produce Nigerian car
South Africa is set to acquire the rights from an automobile engineer to mass produce Nigeria’s first car, the Z600, in that country.
South African President Thabo Mbeki has instructed his deputy-president to finalise details of the agreement with the car manufacturer with a view to producing the vehicle in South Africa.
Ezekiel Izogu, managing director of Izogu Motors Limited managing director disclosed this in an exclusive interview with BUSINESSDAY.
Izogu said the car was first launched in Owerri in 1997 by then Chief of General Staff Oladipo Diya during the regime of former Head of State Sani Abacha.
Even Senegal was said to be interested. Then we heard ‘the technology was stolen’:
Vanguard News, Sunday, March 19, 2006
*Design history, moulds of Nigerian made car stolen
An indigenous motor manufacturing company, Izuogu Motors Limited, Naze Owerri, Imo State, has lost property valued at over one billion naira to burglary.
According to the chairman of the company, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, some armed men numbering about 12 broke into Izuogu Motors factory, Saturday, March 11, between 1.00 and 2.00 a.m. and carted away various machines and tools including a design history notebook of Z-600, the design file Z-MASS, containing the design history for mass production of Z-600 car, a proposed locally made car and the moulds for various parts of the car.
Izuogu, who has laboured for 18 years under very difficult circimstances to design and produce the stolen moulds, lamented that the moulds took 10 years to design and build.
source for the 3–quotes above:nigeriamasterweb
See what this article says about Doc Ezekiel’s work: Note the parts in bold.
Self-started innovation : a political & economic issueThe formula of hand-laid GRP bodyshell and simple steel chassis also appears tohave been followed by Dr Ezekiel Izuogu, who created Nigeria’s first indigenous car, theZ-600, in 1997. This is a 20 mpg family car using 90% locally made components, andintended to sell for around $2,000 (at 1998 prices), “making it making it the mostaffordable car in Africa—and probably the world” ; the factory was planned tomanufacture 30 cars per year. The self-developed 1.8 litre engine “could also be massproduced and put to other uses like agricultural mechanisation, standby electricitygenerator and tricycles”. Whilst this project has ultimately not yet come to fruition with interest from South Africa and Senegal being the latest twist, it has become something of a political symbol. Dr Izuogu’s house was stormed by an armed gang in 2003 and much of the speculation surrounding the vehicle is associated with lessening African reliance on western technology. Nigeria’s Chief of General Staff, Oladipo Diya, said at the Z-600’s launch that “Izuogu had demonstrated the spirit of self-reliance… the theory of technology transfer was a myth” and Izuogu has recently linked technology development to the movement for a pan-African language—“Technology determines whether a people will be rich or poor, strong, weak or influential at the UN or onlookers,borrowers or lenders… The moment a people can describe a technological feat andprocess using the mother tongue, technology becomes part and parcel of their culture”
Is this project dead or is it alive somewhere in the back-stage? Yes its true: Technology determines whether a people will be rich or poor, strong, weak or influential, and Nigeria is a prime example. I can hear someone say: ‘what about Oil’?. Then I’ll answer: where has it gotten us to, today? graft and corruption.
These questions beat my mind daily:
– why is the common Nigerian intellectual, business man, Engineering University graduate not interested in research and development?
– why can’t we and our politicians see into the future, and do something that can last even after we are gone?
– why do we have to rely on this and that country to come and assist us with the most basic of things.
The problem I see, is that the common man is interested in short term things that might bring immediate results and gratification. What about investing energy into something that is long-term but which would have a greater and wide-reaching impact?
Can this psychology be ever reversed?
- Nigeria: Izuogu Records Another Scientific Invention
Tonami’s weblog(last update was June2007) talked about the naijacar project.