Nigerian defence and security firm Mekahog is in the process of setting up a factory to manufacture Springbuck and other armoured vehicles in Nigeria, as part of its effort to provide local content and create employment.
Franklyn Ohakim, Group Executive Director of Mekahog, told defenceWeb that Mekahog would be the first in West Africa to have the ability to fabricate and maintain armoured vehicles.
Earlier this year, Nigeria’s Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade commended Mekahog’s management for offering to establish an armoured personnel carrier (APC) production facility in Nigeria. He promised to facilitate the steps necessary to set up the plant.
Construction of the new assembly and fabrication plant will commence next year and vehicle production in 2014. The company has just completed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with its joint venture partners in South Africa.
Meanwhile Mekahog has entered into an MoU with the Police Ministry in Nigeria to undertake the total engineering evaluation of all unserviceable/abandoned Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in the country. He said returning the vehicles to service would save Nigeria between US$200 and US$300 million.
Mekahog is in partnership with Drakensberg Truck Manufacturers (DTM), and has supplied its products to the Nigerian Police Force and Army. At the moment it is fulfilling an order for Springbuck vehicles for the Nigerian government via DTM’s factory in South Africa. Ohakim said that between now and the end of the year the company hopes to receive a firm order for 200 vehicles for Nigeria government and other West African countries.
Mekahog will later build other designs, such as the DTM Fox light armoured commercial pickup and the DCD Mountain Lion armoured battle vehicle.
According to the Nigerian Police Affairs Ministry, the Nigerian government will soon stop doing businesses with foreign firms that have no production facilities in Nigeria with the aim of stopping the country from being a dumping ground for low quality foreign products.
Nigeria needs all the armoured vehicles it can get as it faces the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency. Ohakim pointed out a wide variety of security threats in the region, such as terrorism, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, arms smuggling and armed robbery. “Technically, the terrorists are becoming smarter. That is the truth,” Ohakim said, noting that bomb makers were becoming increasingly skilled. “We need to protect the territorial integrity of each nation,” he added.
Ohakim said Mekahog has other expansion plans, including the training of rapid response elite mechanics complete with mobile facilities. Mekahog has designed a financing strategy so that countries in the region are able to make large purchases, which have been hampered by limited annual funding.
Mekahog has also partnered with South African company Mechem for bomb detection and disposal and drug detection.