France doubles African exports, aims for more

France roughly doubled its arms sales to Africa between 2006 and 2007 and will aim to bolster figures further after defence minister Hervé Morin threw down the gauntlet.
France sold arms worth €6.3 billion (US8.8 billion) in 2008, up 14.5% from 2007 (€5.5 billion, US$7.3 billion) after simplifying its export procedure. Morin wants to improve this figure this year to catch up with the Britain, who recorded sales of US$19 billion in 2007 thanks, in part, to a controversial order of Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from Saudi Arabia. British 2008 figures are not yet available.  
In 2007, France was the globe`s 4th biggest arms exporter behind the US, the UK and Russia. It was slightly ahead of Israel.
Saudi Arabia was France’s main client, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Spain and the United States.
“We want to do better in 2009,” he told hundreds of uniformed men and women of all ranks during a New Year’s ceremony at the Air and Space Museum at La Bourget in Paris last week. “I can assure you that we will reach the same level as our British friends.”
Reuters notes that arms sales figures are “notoriously volatile and unreliable, since deals stretch over several years and orders may be cancelled for political or budgetary reasons.”
However, Morin struck a confident note, emphasising the political aspect of global arms deals. “I can assure you that I will continue to travel around the world to defend our industrial gems: this will always be one of my priorities,” he said.
Defence website Defpro adds that as a result of Morin`s reforms export license applications can now be processed in less than 40 days, compared with 80 days before. France also created a high-level arms sale task force with the aim to help the defence industry to better trade their products.
“These are just some signals of President Nicolas Sarkozy administration`s strong support of the national defence industry,” the news site adds. 
“Much more important is President Sarkozy`s personal involvement. He speaks directly with heads of states around the globe to push French defence products and he bundles these military contracts with other civilian technological aid. This brings France a greatly advantageous situation since countries such as Brazil and India are interested in state-of-the-art technology from railway to nuclear power stations to civil infrastructure assistance.” 
French research agency ADIT says a precise figure for exports to Africa last year is not yet available. As it stands, sub-Saharan Africa represented 0.85% of French arms deliveries in value in 2007, up from 0.39% the year before. The region represented 0.82% of orders in value, down from 0.87% in 2006.
An ADIT researcher says France more than doubled its deliveries to sub-Saharan Africa from €16 million in 2006 to €38 million in 2007. This includes exports valued at €6 million in 2007 to Nigeria (up from none the year before) and €5.4 million to Chad (from €100 000 in 2006).
The researcher says Chad inter alia signed an agreement in 2006 for the delivery of 82 refurbished AML90 Mk7 for the country`s presidential guard. The first 25 were delivered in March 2007 followed by 10 others in July and deployed to Adré province. More may have been delivered in 2008. Also acquired were ammunition, 45 machine guns and nearly 100 Milan anti-tank missiles. The total value of orders placed by the impoverished and insurgency-wracked central African state in France in 2006 was €3.2 million.
The next year the country, according to French Ministry of Defence reports ordered munitions worth €5 million and land vehicles costing €6.3 million. It also pencilled five preliminary agreements worth just over €3.56 million.
Chad, which has endured years of insurgent activity, including a major motorised attack on its capital a year ago, is also said to be acquiring a mixed bag of 10 Mil Mi17 medium utility and Mi25 attack helicopters. 
The researcher says it is not clear what was exported to Nigeria and the figure may represent the belated payment of a naval Exocet surface-to-surface missile purchase in the 1980s or compensation for naval training.
Nigeria placed orders worth €11.2 million in 2006 (according to a 2007 MoD report) and further orders, for electronic equipment worth €2.5 million in 2007. It also signed seven preliminary agreements and a further export authorisation for equipment valued at €223 480. According to the researcher this may have included some ammunition, naval systems related to the Nigerian Navy`s Combattante III-class patrol boats and machine
Another successful export involves South Africa`s acquisition of the Milan 3 and the upgrade of old launchers to the Advanced Technology (ADT) standard. ADIT puts the cost of the SA Army`s Project Kingfisher at €18 million.
Milan-maker MBDA also sold additional Milan missiles to Libya for nearly €230 million, reportedly to replace Russian systems and DCNS sold Morocco a FREMM frigate for nearly €500 million. The ship is to be armed with the MM40 Exocet, the Aster 15 surface-to-air missile and cannon.
ADIT notes Morocco also in 2007 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Eurocopter for the modernisation of 23 Puma helicopters and with Nexter (previously GIAT) for 138 AMX-13 light tanks.
France is also negotiating the sale of 35 Eurocopter rotorcraft (including 10 EC665 Tigers and 10 AS550 Squirrel) with Libya, in addition to a Caesar 155mm truck-mounted self-propelled mobile artillery system, 60 VAB armored troop vehicles, 13 Nexter ERC Sagaie light tanks, 25 Panhard VBL light armoured vehicles, eight CMN-built patrol boats, and EADS air defence radars. Also on the cards is the modernisation of about 12 Mirage F-1C by original equipment manufacturers Dassault, Thales and Safran.
Defpro also notes that Libya has “signalled strong interest” in the Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft, which it sees as one of the “main pillars” of French military exports this year. The ADIT researcher says offers of either 14 or 32 aircraft are on the table, the latter linked to the F1C upgrade. The Rafale has yet to taste export success. France is also marketing the aircraft in Brazil – where it is competing with the Saab Gripen NG, Switzerland and India. 
Exports tabulated
-          Angola: 3 export authorisations, valued at €1 876 175
-          Benin: 1 export authorisation, valued at €19 710
-          Botswana: 3 export authorisations valued at €1 870 000
-          Burkina Faso: 1 export authorisation valued at €110 781
-          Burundi: 14 export authorisations valued at €4 322 492
-          Congo: 1 export authorisation valued at €8098, plus 1 “onerous transfer” valued at €2452
-          DRC: 1 export authorisation valued at €24 930
-          Djibouti: 3 export authorisations valued at €299 690
-          Ethiopia: 7 export authorisations valued at €2 321 333
-          Gabon: 7 export authorisations valued at €372 609
-          Ghana: 2 export authorisations valued at €10 000
-          Guinea: 1 onerous transfer valued at €11 618
-          Kenya: 1 export authorisation valued at €12 690
-          Malawi: 6 export authorisations valued at €672 023
-          Mali: 2 export authorisations valued at €189 670
-          Mauritius: 5 export authorisations valued at €49 607
-          Mauritania: 1 export authorisation valued at €12 000
-          Niger: 2 export authorisations valued at €2 597 974
-          Senegal: 9 export authorisations valued at €922 860
-          South Africa: 82 export authorisations valued at €72 735 767,
-          Togo: 5 export authorisations valued at €1 499 046, plus 1 “onerous transfer” valued at €3,371