Military exercise creates opportunities

The Armed Forces Day celebrations being hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay help highlight the opportunities for local businesses and investors, says Sadick Davids, Coega Development Corporation (CDC) Business Development Manager: Metals.

“Nelson Mandela Bay has most of the infrastructure and capacity in place to become the African hub for the maintenance, upgrading and manufacturing of military vehicles and equipment.

“As we first saw with Exercise Shared Accord in 2013, the port and road infrastructure is capable of handling military equipment,” he says.

During Shared Accord in 2013 – reported to be one of the largest training exercises to take place on the African continent – 4 000 South African and American troops and hundreds of vehicles participated in a week-long exercise in the Eastern Cape.

Now, Nelson Mandela Bay is hosting seven naval vessels, 20 combat aircraft, over 100 military vehicles, and around 5 000 military personnel and their guests.

Business opportunities identified by the CDC include the refurbishment and upgrading of the thousands of military vehicles in service throughout Africa.

“We in the Eastern Cape have unmatched technical expertise and skills to remanufacture and refurbish any vehicle on the African continent,” says Davids. “Having a number of different manufacturers of both commercial and passenger vehicles in the province is a competitive advantage for the Eastern Cape and CDC in particular.

“It means our technicians are able to work on a variety of different types of engines from different continents. Because of the advanced age of many of the vehicles on our roads, we can also service and work on older equipment.

“This is important because of the age and variety of suppliers to the armies of Africa. There is a unique combination of world-class skills without being so specialised that we can only support one type of technology.

“The development of the International State Cargo Airport at Coega will open up even more opportunities, accommodating military aircraft which could also be serviced and upgraded in the Coega Industrial Development Zone.

“We have strong aircraft technical skills in the province, as well as a world-class composite manufacturing sector.

“With the support of the engineering and computer science faculties at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, there is an exciting opportunity to attract a whole new industry to Nelson Mandela Bay.

“Military exercises like the 2016 Armed Forces Day and Exercise Shared Accord help to showcase the metro’s readiness.”