The bulk of opportunities will be in the humanitarian demining services done by Denel Mechem but he also foresees strong growth in maintenance, repair and overhaul services in the aviation sector, unmanned aerial vehicles and infantry systems.
Mr Saloojee says the sales of defence equipment contributes to the defence and security of our continent. In addition, “the defence industry is highly dependent on government-to-government contact and we are fortunate that the South African government provides strong support to our marketing efforts.”
The recent restructuring of Denel will enable the company to consolidate the marketing initiatives of its various divisions and expose potential clients to the entire range of products and services in the aviation, landward defence and missile technology fields.
Denel regional offices will be established or strengthened in North Africa, East, West and southern Africa while the company will continue to grow its presence beyond the countries on the continent that are currently doing business with Denel.
“We are creating partnerships with our clients in Africa,” says Mr Saloojee. “It is not a question of selling products and systems and walking away from the deal. Our African partners know that we continue to support our products through after-sale services, maintenance agreements, future upgrades and the subsequent provision of spares and support.
“Our products are all locally developed, tried, tested and adapted for African conditions. This commitment to Africa sets Denel apart from other manufacturers,” says Mr Saloojee.
Denel’s approach is to establish strategic partnerships with local companies and create in-country capabilities in the markets it sells to.
Given the continent’s history of past conflicts there are still huge demands for the humanitarian demining services provided by Denel Mechem. The company is currently supporting UN and African Union-sponsored peacekeeping operations in 11 countries on the continent to detect and dispose of landmines and other remnants of war. Mechem’s Casspir range of armoured personnel carriers also remains the most sought-after mine-resistant vehicle for the transport of troops on the continent.
Denel Aviation is growing its ability to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to a wider range of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. It is already certified for MRO work on Lockheed Martin (C-130) and Eurocopter products but intends to extend this to other original equipment manufacturers such as Russian Helicopters and Antonov.
On-going technical support, maintenance, training and skills transfer are important elements in Denel’s relationships with its African clients. The Denel Technical Academy, based in Kempton Park, currently trains more than 50 students from countries on the continent who will be fully qualified artisans and aircraft technicians following the completion of their studies.
Mr Saloojee says the company also wants to grow its share of high-potential niche markets in Africa especially in the fields of missiles and unmanned aerial vehicle system (UAVS) designed and developed by Denel Dynamics. Its Seeker Range of UAVS has the ability to provide valuable surveillance and reconnaissance information to defence forces, especially in anti-piracy operations.
Denel’s African strategy is an integral part of the company’s broader objectives to expand its business in the defence and security-related sectors. “Denel is positioning itself as the strategic supplier of choice to African defence forces,” says Mr Saloojee.