JOHANNESBURG: General Motors, the automaker, is seeking to take a more unified approach in Africa, as it tries to tap the region's considerable growth potential.

The company previously had two separate divisions in this area, covering Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa respectively, but has now created a single business unit, called GM Africa.

"Bringing our operations in Africa together will enable us to take advantage of synergies across the continent‚" Tim Lee‚ GM's vice president‚ global manufacturing‚ and president‚ international operations, said in a statement.

"It will put GM in a strong position to expand in a part of the world that has tremendous long-term potential for vehicle sales growth."

At present, the US multinational trades in over 50 African countries and boasts manufacturing facilities in South Africa, Egypt and Kenya.

During the course of 2012, GM sold 180,493 vehicles in Africa, a lift of 17.5% compared with 2011, and a figure which could rise further as household affluence increases.

As an example of this trend, total auto sales in South Africa rose by 9.2% in 2012 to 623,914 vehicles, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) reported.

"Following the strong improvement in trading conditions in the automotive retail market in 2010 and 2011, the recovery continued throughout 2012 albeit on a more subdued basis," the industry body said.

"The positive momentum should continue into 2013 with demand supported by historic low interest rates."

According to NAAMSA, Toyota led the category in South Africa with sales of 121,276 units, thus retaining the number one position it has held for several years.

"Despite somewhat languid economic growth and international socio-economic uncertainty the market continued to steam ahead," said Johan van Zyl, president and chief executive of Toyota SA Motors.

"A certain level of growth was expected as people returned to dealerships to replace vehicles bought in the 2006 boom, but it was lifted higher by record retail-level competition amongst dealers and higher-level competition amongst manufacturers."

Data sourced from General Motors, 3D Car Shows; additional content by Warc staff