Africa makes it mark at the Africa Aerospace and Defence show

14 September 2016 - 20:12 By Graeme Hosken

Africa is the solution not only to the continent's peace problems‚ but also to global security. This was the message which emerged on Wednesday at the African Aerospace and Defence show in Pretoria.For the first time in the show's nine-year history‚ African countries‚ other than South Africa‚ are exhibiting their military and defence capabilities and technologies.Heading the African Unity display was the launch of South Africa's Paramount Mbombe 8 armoured vehicle.Designed solely by locally-based engineers‚ the vehicle boasts the latest in terms of armour technology‚ power systems and integrated weapons platforms.Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula‚ opening the African Unity section of the show‚ said when people thought of Africa and defence industries‚ they thought only of South Africa."This exhibition shows that yes while South Africa is a prominent player in the defence industry‚ so too is the rest of Africa."With the United Nations expecting African countries to be involved in peacekeeping on the continent - which is happening - the UN needs to start buying equipment from African defence industries."Africa has the capabilities‚ which have been tried and tested over the decades‚ specifically in peacekeeping roles. There is collaboration happening between African defence industries with innovative technologies being constantly developed‚ which must be tapped into by the world especially when it comes to global security‚ which can benefit from the innovations which we have to offer the world."Rodney Mutakama of the Ugandan military refurbishment firm‚ Twiga Uganda‚ said such exhibitions were a powerful marketing tool for what Africa could do in terms of military development."It’s vital that more such shows are held. The world needs to take notice of what the continent's capabilities are. The world needs to take note that Africa and its defence industries are global players."Ade Ogundeyin‚ of the Nigerian paramilitary vehicle manufacturing company‚ Proforce‚ said the exhibition had brought African countries and companies together as one family."Africa has a lot to offer the world. If you look at the innovation around military technology development you can see that Africa can match the world in terms of such developments."He said what was upsetting was that a lot of the technology that was developed in Africa‚ was bought up by the rest of the world‚ repackaged and then exported back to the continent as "new products"."We are being sold what we invent‚ design and build ourselves. Africa is no longer interested in being classified as a 'second class' continent."We have what is takes to offer the world 'first class' military capabilities especially in terms of global security and peacekeeping."Paramount defence chairman‚ Ivor Ichikowitz‚ told TMG Digital the Mbombe‚ and the company’s other capabilities‚ were not just an asset for South Africa‚ but an asset for the entire Africa."South Africa's defence industry instead of dying off 22 years ago has grown into a first world defence industry."Shows like this are vital because‚ while globally many have written off the continent‚ here it is shown that Africa's defence industries are no longer third world producers‚ but rather first world producers in so-called 'third world' countries producing equipment for their first world counterparts."

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