DEFENCE: Africa Challenges Western Dominance Of Defence Industry
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African defence companies are challenging the dominant Western suppliers such as BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin for the same contracts – and they have emerged as technological equals with a wide range of defence and security systems.
Ivor Ichikowitz, Executive Chairman of the Paramount Group, the largest independent defence and aerospace contractor in Africa, said: “The world has finally discovered that Africa has some of the best technologies at affordable prices. We have an amazing skills base, we are home to some of the best engineers in the world and they have developed technologies which are used globally and save lives every day.”
Unveiled for the first time at the AAD exhinbition was the Mbombe – a brand new armoured vehicle of innovative design offering better protection against IEDs than many vehicles currently used by NATO forces in Afghanistan. Coalition forces have thousands of armoured vehicles in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Paramount Group has designed a groundbreaking new vehicle that is set to take the market by storm.
Mbombe is a six-wheeled infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) with a revolutionary mine-resistant flat hull (rather than v-shaped). This means that it has a lower profile than typical MRAP vehicles, a solution which has been sought for many years.
Ivor Ichikowitz commented: “With African defence spending up nearly a third since the end of the Cold War, Africa is purchasing more defence and security systems. This has stimulated manufacturers, engineers and scientists to produce world-class products.”
The Paramount Group is at the forefront of this growth and has seen its sales increase by 20 percent year-on-year during the last five years. Over the past 12 months the company’s workforce has more than doubled to meet the demand for its range of MPVs that provide some of the best levels of protection for soldiers in conventional conflict and in counter insurgency operations.
Mr. Ichikowitz continued: “Combined with greater political stability and economic growth this has enabled companies such as Paramount Group to establish themselves as world class suppliers of military vehicles. Ultimately, this means Africa can now compete with the major Western suppliers and export abroad. The defence and aerospace industry is an asset of the African continent and our vision has always been to use it as a driver for growth and development as Africa moves into a new era of optimism and opportunity.
African companies such as the Paramount Group are not only competing on an international level, with interest from governments in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but also offering better in-country benefits for purchasers. Whereas the Western majors manufacture their equipment far from the destination market, Paramount Group takes an ‘in-country’ approach, where it establishes production facilities in regional markets. This ensures that the economic and development benefits associated with production, training and marketing help the local population, not just the shareholders in New York or London.”
Mr. Ichikowitz concluded: “With Africa now home to some of the world’s best protected vehicles, these are exciting times. Africa is establishing for itself a lead role in innovation, security and as a major contributor to global peacekeeping.”
Business News Sector Tags: Industry|