Saab’s South African defence and security company, Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), has significantly expanded its client base in 2016 and continues to grow its staff complement. With a solid order book leading up to 2020, SGD is firmly positioned to further expand its growth and export locally produced products.
“We have built a remarkable organisation by partnering with South African companies and investing in skills and enterprise development, to ensure that our hi-tech business has local access to the specialised skills and services we need to meet our global customers’ needs,” says Trevor Raman, president and CEO of Saab Grintek Defence.
With approximately 10% of SGD’s revenue allocated to pure research and development, the defence company supplies and supports products and services in air, land, sea and civil defence domains, including electronic warfare, acquisition and communications, lead integration systems, and command, control, training and simulation.
As part of one of the world’s most hi-tech and research-intensive companies, SGD is majority owned by Swedish defence technology leader Saab, with a 25% plus one shareholding deal concluded with African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) late in 2015.
Today, SGD has grown to be Saab’s biggest operation outside Sweden, employing 719 people across its three sites in SA. Since January 2015 alone, 198 new staff have been employed across various specialised fields.
Sixty percent of the company’s staff are in training at any given time, with 12 bursars and 39 learners participating in external programmes. SGD supports 11 companies, in its incubation and development initiatives, and supports eight projects that focus on community-based socio-economic development.
With 80% of its orders coming from other countries, most of SGD’s locally produced products are exported, bringing valuable income into SA.
One of its most significant recent deals is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (Tata Power SED). The MOU highlights SGD’s strategy to take South Africa’s indigenous technology and products beyond local markets with well-established expert partners that add value to its supply chain and open new markets.
Already named Exporter of the Year in 2013 and 2014 by the South African Department of Trade and Industry, the company remains focused on investing within the country’s borders to further create jobs and boost export revenues.
“In addition to actively seeking export opportunities, SGD works closely with the South African government to identify opportunities to supply cost-effective and high performance defence solutions, contributing to South Africa’s defence sovereignty and self-sufficiency,” Raman explains.
“An example is SGD’s TactiCall solution, currently used by the South African Navy and the South African Police Service. TactiCall ensures seamless communication between different emergency management services, regardless of the radio band, frequency or hardware that they are using.”
With a broad range of monitoring, recording and communication management products and services designed, developed and manufactured locally, SGD is well positioned to grow its role as a key contributor to the growth of South Africa’s knowledge and export economies.