The African Regional Office of Nissan South Africa broke the mould recently when it hosted the Nissan African Challenge. The initiative was conceptualised to transfer knowledge and orientate African journalists on the complexities of reporting on the motor industry.

Nissan's African Regional Office recognised the shortcomings in the dissemination of motoring information in Sub Sahara Africa and decided to tackle the problem head on.  Fourteen African journalists were nominated by Sub Sahara Nissan Sales Companies   to participate in the Nissan African Challenge which took place over four days at the end of May.

The event also marked the announcement of the Nissan African Motoring Journalist of the Year Competition. The award, an initiative of African Regional Office of Nissan South Africa will be conducted in association with the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists together with other strategic partners and recognize both print and electronic media with the prize winner enjoying a five day business trip to Nissan Motors Limited Japan.

"Receiving coverage in Sub Sahara Africa has proved to be very challenging not only for Nissan but most motor manufacturers. In many instances there is no dedicated motoring editorial space or no dedicated motoring editor," explains Jim Dando, GM: Africa Regional Office, Nissan South Africa.

In light of this situation Nissan identified the need for orienting African journalists into motoring journalism and transferring valuable skills to them through an intensive skills workshop. The programme, known as the Nissan African Challenge, aims to improve the pool of motoring journalists in Africa.  Furthermore the announcement of the Nissan African Motoring Journalist of the Year Competition sets a benchmark for journalists in the region to raise their profile.

The event saw a number of guest speakers presenting various sessions focusing on editorial content, photography and media placement.

Assessments in the form of summary articles were scheduled throughout the process giving delegates the opportunity to portray their thoughts together with their understanding of the information presented to them. 

In addition Nissan used the event as an opportunity to allow the journalists to experience the Nissan range of products in various ride and drive scenarios including on and off road.  Particular emphasis was placed on the Nissan Navara pickup as this model is due for release in Sub Sahara Africa over the next few months.

This included a great deal of practical knowledge covering off road techniques, safety measures and many other precision driving tips. A visit to the Nissan South Africa manufacturing plant in Rosslyn as well as the companies Aftersales facilities provided further insight into the automotive industry.

The event was well received by the attendees, who felt they had gained a wealth of knowledge over the four-days. Female attendee Joy Sata went on to explain:  "I was very impressed with the content covered on the event," she said. "The programme was very varied giving us a broad, yet in depth, scope of information to consider. It certainly had a strong impact and I feel grateful for having been given the opportunity to attend the Nissan African Challenge."

"We put together an extensive schedule of events for the delegates, that allowed them to experience various aspects of the Nissan brand, the motor industry and the complexities of motoring journalism," continued Dando. "Nissan is committed to an ongoing transfer of skills into the Sub Sahara Africa region and we look forward to hosting the Nissan African Challenge for at least the next three years." 

The 2008 event culminated in an awards dinner hosted by the African Regional Office during which the visiting journalists were awarded certificates for participation and inducted into the South African Guild of Motor Journalists as Associate Members of the Guild. 

"Overall the event was very well received and the fourteen participants were left with a strong foundation of skills. We look forward to viewing their progress in the future and expect to receive some strong entries in next year's Nissan African Journalist of the Year," concluded Dando.



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