The developing defence industry in South Africa is an “asset of the continent” according to Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of Paramount Group, South Africa’s largest privately owned defence and aerospace contractor.
Interviewed for BBC Africa Business Report, Mr. Ichikowitz said that: “The world has finally discovered that South Africa has some of the best technologies at affordable prices.”
The BBC Africa interview highlighted Paramount Group’s sales growth, rising by a quarter year-on-year since 2005, boosted by exports to overseas markets including the Middle East and Central Asia.
The BBC filmed the company’s latest range of mine protected vehicles (MPVs) and armoured personnel carriers at a specially designed test track outside Pretoria.
Since the end of the Cold War total global military spending has fallen by 35%, but spending in sub-Saharan Arica has risen by almost a third in the same period with spending on military hardware in Uganda almost doubling between 1997-98.
Paramount Group’s production of mine-protected vehicles and military hardware for peacekeeping missions around the world helps to provide stability in areas of conflict and creates skilled employment opportunities in-country.
Ivor Ichikowitz commented: “We have an amazing skills base, we are home to some of the best engineers in the world, and those engineers have gone on to develop technologies which are being used globally and save lives every day.”
Aiding the development of African countries is a key factor in Paramount Group’s work, as Mr Ichikowitz observed: “The defence and aerospace sector is an asset of the continent, and my vision has always been to see how we can use that as a mechanism to contribute to the development of other countries in Africa. That is exactly what our group is doing every single day.”
The BBC Africa Business Report indicated that Africa’s defence industry could become the Continent’s top earner through global equipment sales.
Ivor Ichikowitz concluded: “From an African point of view, defence is an African competence.”
Paramount Group is a major shareholder in Aerosud, South Africa’s leading privately-owned aeronautical engineering company, which manufacturers and supplies parts for the Airbus A380, the A400M military transport aircraft and for Boeing. The company has also re-engineered the Mirage F1 fighter and has the world’s largest holding of spare parts for the aircraft.
For more information on Paramount Group visit: http://www.paramountgroup.biz