The two leading economies in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa have taken a decisive step to further strengthen the diplomatic bond between them through the enhancement of their defence industries for the security and economic gains of both nations and the continent at large.
Relationship between the twosomes power players had experienced same challenges prior to the 2015 general elections in Nigeria when South Africa declined to sell some military hardware to its counterpart at the height of the Boko Haram crisis.
However, the hosting of the first Nigeria-South Africa Defence Industry Seminar (NIGSA) at the National Defence College in Abuja recently, has made the diplomatic analysts describe the move as one that could go a long way in addressing the security and economic challenges confronting the continent.
The seminar, which was followed by a defence committee meeting, focused on military technical cooperation, defence exchange programmes and joint military exercises, training as well as research and development.
The Permanent Secretary of Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence, Ambassador Danjuma Sheni said the seminar came at the time when Africa generally is faced with enormous security challenges like insurgency, terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, drugs, human trafficking, environmental degradation as well as food insecurity which have impacted negatively on the lives of Africans.
Speaking further, Sheni said that the two countries hope to have a stronger relationship based on certain legal frameworks like training on military platforms, intelligence gathering and the whole gamut of the two countries’ military relationship. He said, “this will enhance both countries in the areas of job creation and industrialisation.”
“ the seminar came at the time when Africa generally is faced with enormous security challenges like insurgency, terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, drugs, human trafficking…”
He also stated that this was the right time for the partnership so that these two regional powers will look inward and cooperate rather than competing. South African Secretary for Defence, Sam Gulube, who led a delegation with 17 South African companies that participated in the seminar which held 18th and 19th July, 2016. The defence community was of critical importance to counter global threats and to ensure peace and security for socioeconomic development flourishes.
According to him, “defence plays a key role in advanced research and technologies, which broaden economic development away from a reliance on raw materials. We need to build exchange programmes and share information, as well as training, research and development The Executive Director of Aerospace Maritime Defence Industry Association (AMD) Simphiwe Hamilton said the event showed defence cooperation is taken seriously by both nations.
Hamilton described the seminar as the first of its kind for the two powerful countries in Africa stating that; “establishing strategic partnerships with defence companies in Nigeria, South Africa looks at Nigeria as a key partner in Africa and we hope this event will increase future collaborations.”
Some of the South African companies that attended the seminar alongside AMD and Armscor, included DCD Protected Mobility, Denel Group, Turbomeca Africa, SAAB Grintek Defence, Paramount Group, Reutech Communications, CSIR, Floida Engineering Services, Integrated Convoy Protection – (REVA), Megaray Limited, Rippel Effect Systems, Twiga Services and Logistics, Thorax and Weatherhaven Africa.
The seminar stemmed from the first official visit of Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, in March this year to South Africa and President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Nigeria shortly thereafter, at the invitation of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.