Auto maker Mahindra aims for double-digit Africa growth, plans Kenya hub

India's largest utility and tractor producer, Mahindra and Mahindra, has set up an Africa-focused business unit as it looks to maintain double-digit growth levels in the continent, the company said on Tuesday.

With an active presence in 20 African countries, Mahindra and Mahindra hopes the aggressive expansion will help spur a 10-fold increase in business over the next five to seven years.

"There is no doubt that the African continent holds tremendous potential and the new African business unit will place Mahindra in a very strong position to strengthen its African presence," Ashok Thakur, chief executive of Mahindra's local South African unit, said in a statement.

South Africa will act as a central distribution channel for all products manufactured within the group, including utility vehicles, tractors and trucks.

Thakur will lead the newly-established continental business unit, based in South Africa, with additional business hubs planned for Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt.

The firm will, however, have to shake off an unsavoury reputation it acquired in Kenya after a deal to supply the Kenya Police with vehicles in the 1990s was mired in controversy.

The vehicle manufacturer had supplied the Kenya Police with about 1,000 Mahindra Jeeps but left the Kenyan market soon after in what the firm said was an ‘unsuccessful strategy.’

The firm returned to the Kenyan market in 2012 through Xylon Motors, a subsidiary of Simba Corporation, to sell its range of sports utility vehicles (SUV) and commercial vehicles.