Mapisa-Nqakula outlines efforts made to promote SA defence industry


Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has outlined a number of strategies state owned arms acquisition agency Armscor is undertaking to promote the South African defence industry.

In a reply to a parliamentary question on 9 November, the minister said that Armscor is promoting South African Defence Industry (SADI) products by engaging other defence forces and global NGOs to promote the sales of SA arms industry products, primarily on a government to government level which ensures that the engagement is not a once-off transaction but results in broad sustained inter-state trade.

Another strategy outlined by the minister is “facilitating workshops to derive integrated South African defence solutions that address the requirements of SA government departments including the Department of Correctional Services, Border Management Agency etc, which promotes SADI products nationally.”

Seminars are also facilitated with foreign procurement authorities to promote awareness of South Africa’s defence capabilities, and sales of SADI products.

Mapisa-Nqakula stated that there is engagement with financial solution providers to assist potential export clients in their funding of initiatives where SADI is often a participant.
“Armscor has co-sponsored and organised a Summit to expose key United Nations procurement personnel to SADI capabilities, and vice versa exposure of SADI and SA companies providing security solutions to the United Nations system to promote South Africa benefiting from the UN spend on Peace Keeping Operations in Africa.”

Mapisa-Nqakula stated that Defence Industrial Participation (DIP) obligations have helped transfer technology to the South African defence industry and facilitated the export of South African Defence Industry products. “The execution of DIP programs at SADI companies has resulted in significant export sales and has also enhanced the technological capabilities of SADI companies, contributing to their increased competitiveness in the international marketplace.”

The minister was asked by the Democratic Alliance’s Sarel Marais whether any steps have been taken to streamline and coordinate the work done by Armscor and Denel to boost defence exports. She replied that “in terms of the Service Level Agreement between Armscor and the Department of Defence, Armscor facilitates the processes for satisfying requests from the SADI including Denel, for marketing support in the form of equipment, personnel, matériel aid and visits to SANDF facilities, as well as the licensing of Intellectual Property, on behalf of the DOD.
“The DOD actively supports the SADI by making its personnel, equipment (matériel) and facilities available to assist in the marketing initiatives of the domestic defence industry, and to promote defence related export by assisting industry in getting international exposure through shows and exhibitions and to assist Armscor departments and SADI in arranging and coordinating events.
“Armscor is also assisting the DOD and SADI in arranging and coordinating the local AAD exhibition for SADI to promote and market its products.

For work done for the non-SANDF client, Armscor has facilitated workshops with Denel and other SADI personnel for the promotion of SADI products to both local and international markets. The targeted local market is the security cluster. The international markets are primarily African defence forces, NGOs and the United Nations.”

At a South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industry Association (AMD) seminar late last year, AMD Export Council Director Sandile Ndlovu said that one of the factors holding back the local defence industry is fragmented government support. He urged other government entities to become involved as selling defence equipment as it is a political as well as economic transaction. “We need to bring the political role of government into our sphere.” For instance, the recent visit by Angola’s president to South Africa was a potential opportunity to enter that market, but the defence industry was not aware of the visit.

Ndlovu said the government needs to promote the defence industry more, such as the manner in which the United States and Russia do on diplomatic visits, and if this happened in three years’ time South Africa would “comfortably dominate the African market.”
“The potential that lies in this sector is not properly understood….If they knew they would be supporting us,” he said.

South Africa is pursuing defence trade opportunities in a number of African countries, and over the past 18 months has engaged with a large number of African countries and assessed their needs and what South African can offer them.

One of the issues Ndlovu pointed out was the fact that many African countries lack the finances to acquire defence products although they have other resources they can offer instead, such as gold. The problem is the defence industry knows little about trading these commodities and would benefit from someone taking command.

Ndlovu also said it would be very helpful if South Africa had an export-import bank to finance defence deals. He believes that an alternative payment mechanism would solve 60% of the industry’s problems.