South Africa’s President opens door on partnerships for defence as economic driver

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed the importance of the defence industry as he formally opened the 10th Africa Aerospace and Defence show at Waterkloof, Pretoria today.

The industry’s role in areas of national security were key to the economic future of South Africa, the president said.

“Improved security attracts investment, encourages growth and promotes development,” Ramaphosa said. He also saw an important role for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the military intervention capability across the whole continent under the direct control of the African Union.
“SANDF ought to involve itself, with African partners, in peace missions to improve security in strife-torn regions. These intervention capabilities can reduce the risk of major interstate conflict and civil war,” he said.
Ramphosa responded to critics of the defence cuts and reiterated the financial challenges facing the country. “The economy is under pressure” he said saying the means available in the budgets are finite, but while he recognised that SANDF was adapting to this economic reality he stressed again the importance of the sector.
“It is a national asset that has value for many departments and agencies of government,” he said. “It innovates products for the greater economy, such as systems that improve the safety of railway lines or improve the efficiency of shark nets.
“Some of our aircraft-related businesses are expanding in a highly competitive environment as suppliers to the biggest players in the global aircraft industry,” he said.
Government intends to support the industry to become export-driven on the back of international investment, by having a policy stance favouring international joint ventures with local industry, he said. “Many nations, from different parts of the world, have expressed interest in becoming involved in joint ventures with our industry. The AAD event offers a massive opportunity for all present to identify areas of synergy and convert them into joint ventures.”