South Africa's stable financial system, export-friendlyregulations and the likelihood of its participation in acontinent-wide free trade agreement are driving Ford Motor to rampup production there with an eye toward expanding growth in the restof Africa.

Jeffery Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. of SouthAfrica since the start of 2010, says China is the world's economicpowerhouse today and India is probably next in line. But Africa isrich in commodities, including oil, and holds 60% of the world'suncultivated arable land, Nemeth says. “In the future, Africa isthe next logical global growth engine.”

With that in mind, Ford has invested $500 million to upgrade itsproduction facility in Pretoria. Starting in September, it plans toproduce 100,000 Ranger pickup trucks annually, replacing the 25,000Focus compact cars and Bantam pickup trucks it manufactures theretoday.

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