Perhaps, Nigeria would have joined the likes of Germany, Japan, India and Malaysia as an automobile manufacturer as far back as 1997 when Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, an electrical/electronics engineer, a doctor of science and lecturer of communications and electronics engineering at the Federal Polytechnic, Owerri, made a prototype of his first ever all-African car which he named Z-600.
The car which BBC’s Hilary Andersson described as the all-African
dream machine, was made for the family market with a top speed of 140km
(86m) per hour.
Ninety per cent of its parts were sourced locally. For instance, the
horn was a doorbell and it would have been the cheapest car on the
planet as it would have cost just $2,000 to own one.
According to Izuogu who had demonstrated a great flair for inventive
and creative knowledge from early childhood, he was working on adapting
the engine to allow the Z-600 to double up as a lawnmower or an
With the usual Nigerian lackadaisical attitude when it comes to
things that will help project the country’s image to the world
positively, the authorities were not ready to invest money in the
project and so in 2005, the South African Government invited him to
build the car there. And since he who pays the piper dictates the tune,
South Africa would have been the proud manufacturers of the Z-600 were
it not for the incidence of March 11, 2006.
Unfortunately, this dream was not to see the light of day. According
to Dr. Izuogu, some armed men numbering about 12 broke into the Izuogu
Motors factory on Saturday, March 11, between 1.00 and 2.00 a.m. and
carted away various machines and tools including the design history
notebook of Z-600, the design file Z-MASS, containing the design history
for mass production of Z-600 car, and the moulds for various parts of
Said Izuogu; “It seems that the target of this robbery is to stop the
efforts we are making to mass-produce the first ever locally made car
in Africa. Other items stolen included locally produced timing wheel,
locally produced camshaft, locally produced crankshaft, locally produced
engine tappets, all 20 pieces each.
Also stolen were ten pieces of locally produced Z-600 engine blocks,
ten pieces of locally produced pistons, four pieces of engine block
mounds, four pieces of top engine block moulds, ten pieces of engine fly
wheel and two pieces each of rear car and front mudguard moulds.”
The inventor regretted that not only did they lose over one N1
billion in monetary terms, but also time (about 10 years) and the energy
it took to design and produce the moulds. “To worsen the matter, our
design notebook was also stolen,” he stated.
He regarded the incident as a national economic disaster because the nation had lost a technological and intellectual property.