For the past eight years, South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) has been attempting to switch from a paper-based to a digital import and export permit system, but little tangible progress has been made in this regard.
Advocate Ezra Jele, NCACC Secretariat Head, told the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) last month that some procurement was done in 2015, but there was “product failure and there is no recourse,” compounded by the fact that “such products are out of warranty/obsolescence.” The warranty of the equipment that was acquired in 2015 has since expired.
One of the reasons for the slow progress is that although the NCACC Secretariat is the system owner, it “had little influence on the design and development.”
At the moment, the NCACC’s permit system is operating manually and relies primarily on paper documents. Jele’s presentation revealed the current system cost R904 000 to maintain in 2022/23 and R1 million in 2023/24 (the current financial year). The new IT system cost R7.8 million in 2022/23 and R5 million in 2023/24 and is meant to be run in parallel to the old system as the whole process becomes digital.
However, renewing the NCACC’s IT system will cost R12 million, covering computers, licensing, software, racks etc. yet it is not clear if this additional money will be forthcoming from the Department of Defence.
The NCACC two years ago said it had hoped to migrate to the new IT system by early 2021 as the current system used to process applications was outdated, not able to desegregate information in a holistic and user-friendly manner, and caused delays in processing applications, much to the frustration of the defence industry. Last year Jele said the new IT system had gone live, but was in a diagnostic stage.