African-owned maritime and defence companies Sandock Austral and Petram Fortis have teamed up to offer maritime security solutions to Ghana through the newly established joint venture Petram Sandock Maritime Systems, which will be showcasing its capabilities at the International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (IMDEC) in Ghana this week.
Arthur Kweku Ackah-Yensu, CEO of Petram Fortis, said, “We are the largest defence company in Ghana and with a proven track record of excellence – it is through partnerships like these that Africa will cease to toe the line, and begin to blaze the path through innovation and creativity. It is indeed time for Africa to rise.”
IMDEC is the largest maritime security exhibition and conference in West Africa and this year’s edition expects to attract over 15 Chiefs of Navies, Chiefs of Air Staff and 300 international officials. One of the key topics under discussion at the conference is piracy in the region – as much as 95% of all kidnappings at sea in 2020 occurred in the Gulf of Guinea, which saw 84 attacks on ships, with 135 seafarers kidnaped for ransom in 2020, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
“The Petram Sandock Maritime Systems joint venture is the only Ghanaian based sponsor at this exhibition and is a typical example of how intra-Africa partnerships can be established to engage the global supply chain to build, maintain, repair and overhaul vessels and other defence and security systems in-country and/or in-continent,” said Sandock Austral CEO Prasheen Maharaj. “Africa must have self-sufficiency and not be at the mercy of the rest of the world for military capability and capacity.”
Maharaj said that SanDock Austral Shipyards comes into the conference with a solid track record of creating maritime military capabilities on the African continent as an indigenously owned company. “We have partnered with Petram Fortis with the explicit strategy to replicate what we did in South Africa, in Ghana,” he said. This includes having built the largest military ship on the African continent, the Navy fleet replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg; refitting South African Navy vessels; and building a new hydrographic survey vessel for the South African Navy, which Maharaj said is the largest and most complex hydrographic survey vessel under construction in the world.
“It’s being built in South Africa by South Africans. There are zero foreigners based at the Shipyard in South Africa. SAS is building the hull from scratch as well as playing the role of a Level 5 Systems Integrator.”
Petram Sandock Maritime Systems said it would welcome the opportunity to work with like-minded organisations that form part of the naval defence and security supply chain, to address the end-user requirements of Ghana and other African countries in their fight against piracy, human and drug trafficking, illegal immigration, illegal fishing and exploitation of other natural resources, environmental pollution etc.
“Let’s turn these challenges into economic opportunities to create a prosperous Ghana and a prosperous Africa. Let us as Africans work in a cooperative and collaborative way with each other and the rest of the world to create an African industrial and technology base,” Petram Sandock Naval Systems said.
Ackah-Yensu said Petram Sandock is proposing a total system to meet Ghanaian maritime security and fisheries protection requirements, covering naval vessels and land and air elements. He said Petram Fortis is well suited for this as it has a strong track record of supporting Ghana’s armed forces since the company’s establishment in 2016. It has already supplied artillery, communications systems, peacekeeping support and more to Ghana’s military to become Ghana’s largest local defence company.
Through the collaboration with Sandock Austral, Petram Fortis hopes to provide Ghana with solutions to most of its maritime problems, and will be highlighting these during IMDEC 2021. The companies are proposing a holistic maritime security solution comprising of vessels with sensors such as radar and optical systems as well as land-based units, both static and mobile, which provide information to a command and control centre. This intelligence is also applicable to all branches of the armed forces and allows for the protection of Ghana as a whole rather than just its sea or waterways.
“Given security and defence projects are both technology intensive as well as relying on a big manufacturing industrial supply chain, I can think of no better industry to lead the charge for Africa’s economic emancipation than the defence and security sectors,” Maharaj said.
“Whilst advocating for a ‘Make in Africa, Build in Africa’ Strategy, we are not saying it should be at the exclusion of the rest of the world. In fact, more that 50% of the value of a defence or security vessel will still need to be imported from the international supply chain. But if we can execute projects in the country of the end user, surely, we will be creating a more prosperous Africa whilst the international market still benefits from the supply chain opportunities of African based projects. This is a win-win situation. This is shared prosperity. Because the world needs a prosperous Africa. A prosperous Africa means 1.2 billion mainstream consumers – not survivalist consumers.”
“Competitors in the space for naval vessels/solutions want to sell hardware but not provide support or training. We want to work with Ghana for the long haul and maintain equipment across its life,” Petram Sandock Naval Systems said. “We only want to give them what they need.”
Petram Fortis is supplier agnostic and sources what is needed from suppliers around the world. The Sandock Austral Group, which includes Sandock Austral Aerospace, Sandock Austral Shipyards, Sandock Austral Defence Engineering Systems and Torpedo South Africa, can offer capabilities such as weapons stations, missiles, radars, ship construction, and maritime surveillance aircraft, amongst others.