South Africa and Egypt looking to strengthen defence cooperation

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The South African defence industry is cultivating closer ties with the Egyptian market, with the South African Aerospace, Maritime, and Defence Export Council (SAAMDEC) holding discussions with Egypt’s Minister of State for Military Production.

Dr Mohamed Said Al-Assar met with members from the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence (AMD) Industries Association on Saturday along with representatives from a number of South African companies to discuss defence cooperation.

The Egyptian Ministry of Military Production outlined its role and requirements, particularly regarding ammunition, weapons and equipment. According to Egyptian media, the two sides discusses aspects of cooperation and willingness to enhance this.

AMD representatives highlighted the fact that South African companies are willing to work with Egyptian companies and praised the Egyptian side for encouraging foreign companies to invest in Egyptian projects. South African interest could be seen in the participation by South African companies in the first EDEX defence exhibition in Cairo in December 2018, with AMD encouraging other companies to take part in the next edition in 2020.

“The two sides agreed to form working groups to study the tracks that will be agreed upon to develop future partnership and cooperation,” Egyptian media reported.

SAAMDEC CEO Sandile Ndlovu, speaking at the end of the weeklong outward trade and investment mission in Egypt, said the North African country is a big market for the South African defence industry as it spends over $4 billion on arms a year.

He said the first step to entering the Egyptian defence market is to formally introduce the South African defence industry to the market and acknowledge the efforts of individual companies that have been interacting already. Secondly, areas of cooperation in the defence space need to be identified.

“Our first interactions with the Egyptian private sector occurred during a defence exhibition that was held in Egypt last year [EDEX 2018]. We interacted again this time around and have found that there is a lot of interest to cooperate with us, specifically on the promotion and marketing of our products in the private sector.

“What we have agreed on doing between ourselves and the Egyptian defence authorities is to streamline discussions by identifying specific areas where we could cooperate. In the meantime, because Egypt has such a huge buying capacity, they have also made an undertaking that they would forward more inquiries of their requirements to South Africa. Over and above the co-producing and co-developing, we will begin to assist the Egyptians with their defence requirements in areas where South Africa has solutions,” said Ndlovu.

South African companies that have already participated in the Egyptian defence market include Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), which commissioned a Universal Filling Plant for Egypt in 2017. This has the capability to fill a variety of munition products, including medium and large calibre ammunition through to aircraft bombs. It was established over a four year period.

Denel Dynamics, meanwhile, is looking to sell Egypt up to 96 Umkhonto-R surface-to-air missiles in a potential R4.5 billion deal. These would equip the Egyptian Navy’s new ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) Meko A200 frigates. Denel is also hoping to sell 32 infrared-guided versions of its Umkhonto missile to Egypt, according to a Mail & Guardian report. In early September, in presentation to Parliament, Denel said its “largest export contract” was “imminent” with an advance payment of R1.5 billion. The presentation said the contract would boost Denel’s production portfolio and cover equipment fit for TKMS vessels for the Egyptian Navy.

Elsewhere, South African engineers from SAKSA Technologies developed the ST-100 and ST-500 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for Egypt’s International Marathon United Technology Group (IMUT), which were unveiled in 2018 and are in production for the Egyptian military.



According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, South Africa supplied 14 Mamba APCs to Egypt in 2014.