Armscor has registered as a United Nations vendor and its first attempt at doing business with the world body’s peacekeeping structures will see a coalition of SMMEs among those tendering for uniforms to be used by peacekeepers in Africa.
This development comes after the June conference on UN procurement in Pretoria and is one of the initiatives led by Armscor and its chief executive, Kevin Wakeford, to put South African industry firmly into the logistic supply chain of the UN on the continent.
“We have involved multiple clothing suppliers in a UN uniforms Request for Information (RfI),” he said, adding South African delegations would be visiting UN headquarters in New York as well as the world body’s Nairobi office in the near future to “talk business”.
“We want South Africa to be a meaningful part of the UN supply chain. Africa currently gets very little in terms of the overall UN supply, production and services chain and this is going to change.
“We have to – and are – looking at things differently as a country. This is particularly true when it comes to peacekeeping and peacebuilding rather than the equipment needed for war,” he said, adding this year for the first time there would be an African Unity stand at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition next month.
This, Wakeford said, would be the first time Africa as a continent was taking exhibition space at the continent’s largest dedicated aerospace and defence exhibition alongside other national pavilions.
“It’s a milestone for us to have counties such as Nigeria and Uganda, among others, exhibiting alongside the African Union.
“I see it as being a major step forward in making – and eventually keeping – the UN supply chain as Afrocentric as possible with the resultant benefit to the economies of African suppliers and the overall benefit of continental peace. That in turn will lead to economic growth and prosperity.”
Wakeford is adamant Africa will become South Africa’s largest trading partner in 10 years.
“The defence industry will definitely be part of this in terms of equipment for peacekeeping and peacebuilding but Africa overall must ensure it gets more of the R100 billion a year the UN spends,” he said.