Nigeria and Brazil cement defence ties with aviation, security and defence forum


Between 21 and 23 June, a week after a meeting between the Brazilian Ambassador to Nigeria Ricardo Guerrera and the Nigerian Minister of Defence Bashir Magashi, the third edition of the Brazil-Nigeria Aviation, Security & Defence Trade Forum was held in the Brazilian Embassy in Abuja.

This event, attended by representatives of both governments and of Brazilian defence and security firms, was an occasion for both countries to reaffirm the importance of their bilateral relationship, of which defence is growing as a key component. In presence of representatives of national companies such as Embraer, Avibras, Atech, Condor, Iveco and Akaer, the Brazilian delegation invited Nigerian authorities to visit Brazil and get to know its defence industrial base better.

The Brazilian delegation highlighted strategic Brazilian defence projects, including its frigate construction programme, Guarani armoured vehicle acquisition, Integrated Border Monitoring System, KC-390 aircraft and other aviation developments.

The Brazilian side also praised the significant growth in joint training that took place over the last few years between both countries. Cooperation efforts in training of military personnel were advocated as early as in November 2013 by then-Brazilian Vice-President Michel Temer and his Nigerian counterpart at that time Namadi Sambo, which gives a sense of the tangible developments in this relationship over the last decade.

These November 2013 talks were held at the occasion of the inaugural session of the Brazil-Nigeria Mechanism for Strategic Dialogue, a founding initiative in this bilateral defence cooperation. Kick-started with a memorandum of understanding signed between then-President Dilma Rousseff and her Nigerian counterpart Goodluck Jonathan, this framework established a bilateral defence working group, which met for the first time in March 2014.

In 2017, during a visit of the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Aloysio Nunes Ferreira to his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama, both countries called for a deepening of the Strategic Dialogue mechanism. Less than a year later, in August 2018, Nigeria signed a $329 million deal for the acquisition of 12 A-29 Super Tucano light combat aircraft, a modified version of Embraer’s EMB 314 Super Tucano. This important sale gave yet another impulse in the nascent Nigerian-Brazilian defence collaboration.

In April 2021, during another meeting between Bashir Magashi and Ricardo Guerrera, both sides hinted at a future Memorandum of Understanding in the defence field, emphasizing the need for common efforts in training, R&D, intelligence management and transfers of technology.

For now, most of the cooperation efforts seem to relate to the air domain, although ship building and naval projects were also mentioned in 2013 speeches. Last October, the Nigerian Chief of Air Staff Oladayo Amao called on measures to ease access to spare parts for the Super Tucano, and mentioned potential future orders for more Brazilian combat aircraft.

The Nigerian-Brazilian connection also unfolds in civil aviation, since the Nigerian carrier Air Peace ordered ten Embraer E195-E2 regional jet in April 2019, with options for a total of 30 aircraft. Air Peace thus became the first African E2 operator, and inaugurated its first Embraer jet in July 2021. Last February, the Brazilian OEM and the Nigerian airline signed an agreement for Embraer to provide MRO support to Air Peace.

The relationship between Brasilia and Abuja is already strong, with Brazil being Nigeria’s main commercial partner in Latin America and Nigeria being Brazil’s main commercial partner in Africa. These various developments, however, seem to be increasingly shaping their relationship, and further significant developments are likely to come in the next months and years.

Written by ADIT – The Bulletin and republished with permission.