SAAB, the Swedish defence and security company with a significant South African presence, has won a two-year, US$5.5 million contract to support the the African Union’s Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) with maintenance and technical services. The contract, awarded Friday bythe United Nations, has an option for an extension of a further two years.
SAAB will begin its commitment to UNSOA (United Nations Support Office for AMISOM) in Mogadishu next month. “This means SAAB will deliver a maintenance solution that will support AMISOM, and that also includes technical training, preventive and corrective maintenance, maintenance planning, documentation, monitoring and analysis.”
“We are delighted to have received this order, which is a real breakthrough deal for Saab regarding the UN. A fantastic effort from everyone involved has made this possible, and now it is time for us to begin this operation and fulfill the customer’s demands,” says Axel Cavalli-Bjorkman, Director of Business Development, Marketing & Sales within Saab’s Support and Services business area.
AMISOM is mandated to support transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the Somali security forces, and to assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid. It was created by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) in January 2007 with an initial six month mandate. In February 2007 the UN Security Council (UNSC) approved the mission’s mandate ad subsequent six-monthly renewals of AMISOM’s mandate by the African Union Peace and Security Council have been mirrored by the UNSC.
News reports indicate AU ministers last Thursday agreed to expand the mission’s mandate from a peacekeeping focus to a peace-enforcement focus that will engage al-Qaeda franchise al-Shabaab more directly following a deadly bomb attack in the Ugandan capital earlier in the month that killed over 70 people watching the soccer World Cup final.
Reuters Friday reported the AU had also announced Guinea would send a battalion of troops to join AMISOM. “We have today a full commitment with Guinea for a battalion,” AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping told reporters. “Guinea is ready to immediately send troops.”
East African regional bloc IGAD last month pledged to send another 2000 troops to join more than 6000 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi in Mogadishu. IGAD has not yet announced which countries will contribute peacekeepers. The latest pledges would take the force, known as AMISOM, to more than 8000-strong – the maximum allowed under its current mandate.
A three-year insurgency in the Horn of Africa nation has killed at least 21 000 civilians and forced 1.5 million from their homes. Somalia’s Western-backed government now controls only a few streets of the capital Mogadishu.
Logistics, or the lack thereof, has long been the bane of African peacekeeping missions, including AMISOM. Former African Union (AU) Commission peace and security department director Geofrey Mugumya will tell next month’s defenceWeb Peacekeeping Africa 2010 conference that a haphazard approach to logistics as well as to financing and force generation has hamstrung numerous past and present AU peacekeeping missions, starting with the continent’s first mission in Chad in 1979.
The defenceWeb’ Peacekeeping Africa 2010 conference will will take place at Gallagher Estate, Midrand, from August 26 to 27.
PEACEKEEPING AFRICA 2010
For more on this topic, attend defenceWeb’ Peacekeeping Africa conference August 26-7 at Gallagher Estate, Midrand.