SA’s defence industry exports top R4 billion in 2018

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South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), in its annual report for the 2018 calendar year, records the local defence industry as exporting products and services valued at more than R4 billion.

The South African defence industry (SADI) exported to 66 countries using 776 export permits approved by the NCACC.

The report was due to be tabled during the 23 August meeting of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCOD). The covering letter has it that the report was issued by Jeff Radebe who until earlier this year was Minister in the Presidency. He was not named in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s post-May election Cabinet and resigned as a Member of Parliament in June. The NCACC report and its annexures are dated February 2019 and were signed off by Naledi Pandor, current Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, on 28 February this year.

In the 12 months to 31 December last year, 137 South African armoured combat vehicles valued at more than a billion Rand were exported to 26 countries with the United Nations listed as a separate buyer of 120 vehicles on behalf of the Federal Government of the Somali Republic.

Other notable buyers were the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with 42 vehicles, Senegal (23) and Mali (13). Other countries where South African armoured vehicles are now in service include Egypt, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Nigeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Niger, Uganda, Thailand and the United States, which the NCACC says bought a lone armoured combat vehicle from South Africa.

Only five countries – Egypt, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia and Thailand – are now owners and operators of new South African made large calibre artillery. Between them they acquired 24 artillery pieces valued at more than R1.2 billion. Largest buyers were Thailand (seven), Saudi Arabia (six) and Germany (five).

According to the report, Malaysia was the only buyer of South African missiles and missile launchers in the period under review. It acquired 153 units with a value of R175.5 million.

More than 1 600 light South African weapons were sold to 14 countries valued at just on R1 billion. The biggest single buyer was Saudi Arabia with a thousand followed by the UAE with 188 and Pakistan with 129.

Close to 10 000 locally manufactured bombs and rockets worth more than a million and a half rand were sold to The Netherlands, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

The arsenals of nine countries now have more than 1.3 million rounds of South African ammunition valued at more than R1.1 billion. They are Australia, Nigeria, Jordan, Greece, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the UAE.

South Africa imported less in terms of arms, ammunition and other defence equipment during the period under review. The NCACC report has it that the value of imports was R128 277 369 brought into the country in terms of 531 permits issued to 35 countries.



Five hundred and sixty-seven missiles from France and 1 200 rounds of ammunition from Serbia are notable items on the import list. Fire control and related warning equipment long with what the report calls “electronic equipment” and imaging or counter-measures equipment from France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom was valued at over R86 million.