South Africa’s defence exports in 2016 were worth R4 billion


The 2016 calendar year saw the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) authorise export permits with a total value of R4 170 291 132.

According to the annual report for the 12 months starting 1 January, 2016 and ending 31 December 2016, the committee, under the chairmanship of Minister Jeff Radebe, authorised 2 913 export permits covering 88 countries. The NCACC report was signed off by Radebe in March this year but has only just found its way into the public domain.

The armoured personnel carrier (APC) expertise built up by the local defence industry again stood it in good stead with over a dozen countries taking up options to acquire South African APCs. This included Angola (24 vehicles worth R85 million); Ivory Coast (two vehicles worth R3.7 million), Denmark (two vehicles worth R9.7 million); Iraq (ten vehicles worth R94 million); Jordan (14 vehicles worth R235 million); Kazakhstan (four vehicles worth R18 million); Kenya (seven vehicles worth R35 million); Malaysia (one vehicle worth R3.5 million); Mali (seven vehicles worth R40 million); Thailand (20 vehicles worth R8.4 million) and Saudi Arabia (30 vehicles worth R290 million). Singapore received 19 armoured vehicles and 27 hulls worth R78 million.

The accuracy of the figures in the NCACC report cannot be verified – for instance the 2016 annual report does not mention APC exports to the United Arab Emirates but the 2016 quarterly report, for October to December 2016, states that the UAE received 89 APCs worth R520 million.

What the NCACC terms “heavy weapons” were widely exported. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates received 620 40 mm guns. The UAE also acquired 27 mortars. Indonesia and New Zealand acquired six 7.62 mm machineguns while Oman acquired 500 ‘machine guns’ valued at R53 million.

South African bombs, mortars and rockets last year legally found their way into the inventories of the Netherlands, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, with the Middle Eastern country buying more than 24 000 120m mortars, five thousand 81mm mortars and 94 60mm mortars.

Ammunition, including 20mm and 40mm, with some described as “various” was exported to Oman, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Tanzania, the United Araba Emirates and Venezuela. These exports amounted to around R215 million. One of the biggest small arms ammunition exports was to the UAE: 8.6 million rounds of 7.62 ammunition worth R102 million.

Fire control and related warning equipment was exported to Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, China, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Included in this category are transponders, integrated defensive suites, infrared detectors, LEDS systems, radar, system jammers and laser warning systems. The biggest contract was for Saudi Arabia, for 586 LEDS systems worth R82 million.

Other electronic equipment, including rangefinders and communication equipment was exported to Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Republic of Korea, Nepal, China, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

Five countries added South African counter-measures equipment to their inventories. Egypt, Germany, Italy, Malaysia and the United Araba Emirates now have South African periscopes, binoculars, ruggedised computers and observation and targeting systems at their disposal.

South African software with military and defence applications valued at over R4 million was exported to India and Saudi Arabia in the 2016 calendar year.

According to the 2016 last quarter report, Germany acquired 16 missiles worth R259 million (possibly for Algeria).

In addition to R4 billion worth of export permits granted in 2016, the NCACC also granted 2 245 import permits worth R673 million and apparently authorised 276 contracting permits worth “R175 890 445 001”.

Total defence exports for the 2015 calendar year amounted to R2.7 billion. This compares to R2.98 billion for 2014, R3.2 billion the year before and R10.6 billion in 2012.