The South African defence industry is gearing up for new joint ventures and partnerships at next month’s fifth BRICS Summit in Durban.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has already been to Russia in support of the five nation grouping, particularly regarding defence co-operation. She is also scheduled to visit another BRICS partner, India, ahead of the Summit at the Durban International Convention Centre on March 26 and 27.
Simphiwe Hamilton, executive director of the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (better known as AMD), confirmed the Association will be a part of the Department of Trade and Industries co-ordinated exhibition in Durban. The exhibition will run alongside the Summit where its five members will look to expand business opportunities and areas of co-operation.
The Durban gathering will be the fifth Summit where the five BRICS member countries seek common ground on areas of importance. The BRICS grouping has several aims including peace, security, development and co-operation. South Africa became a member of BRICS in 2010.
“AMD members are already working with BRICS countries. The most visible of these is the A-Darter missile project with Brazil, helicopter co-operation with Russia as well as some electronics work in India and China,” Hamilton said.
He would not be drawn on specific areas of involvement for the local defence industry with its counterparts in Brazil, Russia, India and China, but said there was “growth potential”.
“As a representative organisation AMD will support members’ efforts in this regard.”
While in Moscow, Mapisa-Nqakula met senior representatives of the Russian defence sector. She said her visit and the March summit would see initial discussions “translated in co-operation agreements”.
The Russian visit resulted in agreement on further exchange and co-operation programmes in the defence training and technical fields. Russian companies Antonov and Russian Helicopters already have agreements with state-owned Denel Aviation.
AMD members are the bulk of the local defence industry and indications are at least some of them will become involved in additional activities around the summit, Hamilton said.