The South African defence industry’s (SADI’s) participation in next week’s IDEX (International Defence Exhibition and Conference) in Abu Dhabi is important because countries in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region want “to reduce dependence on NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) countries”.
This is as per a South African Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) statement regarding South Africa’s presence at and involvement in IDEX.
Nearly two dozen South African companies will be exhibiting at IDEX 2023, including 11 at the South African pavilion, facilitated by the dtic with the export specific arm of the South African defence industry representative body on “a mission to seek export opportunities” according to the dtic statement.
Also in the United Arab Emirates for IDEX is Denel, making a comeback to international marketing in the wake of COVID-19 and the damage wrought on the State-owned defence and technology conglomerate by grand corruption.
Sandile Ndlovu, chief executive officer of the SA Aerospace Maritime Defence Export Council (SAAMDEC) an SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) entity, is part of the South African delegation to IDEX. In addition to heading the export council, Ndlovu is interim chief executive of AMD.
South Africa will be represented by a national pavilion, made possible by Minister Ebrahim Patel’s department, which Ndlovu (according to the statement) will see “a best foot forward” approach representing the country and SADI.
Expanding on the move away from NATO, the statement has Ndlovu saying: “They [Middle Eastern countries] are diversifying in terms of importing defence products and moving away from procuring from America and Europe. South Africa stands to benefit from that diversification of import markets. Participating in IDEX provides us [South Africa] with an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the Middle East”.
He is optimistic IDEX exposure will generate trade leads for the South African companies and see them starting or increasing exports.
“The objective of the initiative is to see South African companies entering contracts that will impact positively on the South African economy because their value chain is here, their components are made here and their workforce is here. If they come back with contracts, their workforce and value chain will benefit noticeably. The South African economy will benefit because of much-needed foreign currency the companies will earn and be injected into our economy,” the statement further has the SAAMDEC chief executive saying.
SAAMDEC was established in 2015 by AMD and the dtic. Membership comprises 70 companies manufacturing a variety of defence equipment, both defensive and offensive.
“The industry approached the dtic for assistance in 2015 after we realised the local market had been shrinking since 2005. This resulted in establishment of the council as we had to open new avenues and explore new opportunities to stay afloat. With the support of the dtic the industry became export focused and we managed to increase exports. Several international trade exhibitions and missions later we are exporting 80% of what the SADI produces today,” according to Ndlovu.