Alan Peaford

Speculation was mounting at the show yesterday that an arms-for-oil deal between South Africa and Saudi Arabia would be announced today.

South Africa's Defence Minister Joe Modise flew into the show from Riyadh, accompanied by Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Pernwell Maduna, and Seshi Chonco, chief executive of Denel, South Africa's major defence contractor.

The minister was not commenting on the deal with Saudi Arabia which is believed to be ordering $1.6 billion worth of G6 self-propelled artillery vehicles and anti-aircraft missiles.

But other contractors at the show are watching the developments with interest. Denel is also bidding for defence contracts in the UK and Malaysia- and seeing the opportunity for inward investment too, as part of offset deals. Singapore Defence Minister Tony Tan was with Modise in Pretoria last week and has announced a defence co-operation agreement under which Singapore defence forces will be trained in South Africa and Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft will take part in live-firing exercises.


This could also pave the way for Denel to take the Rooivalk to Asian Aerospace to follow up the showing in Malaysia later this month.

One major barometer of the mood in Africa is the growth of the continent's air show, Aerospace Africa, which is due to take place from 28 April to 2 May 1998. Show organiser Lynn Browne says a number of companies at Dubai, recognising the potential of Africa, are seeking space.

The show takes place just outside Pretoria at the South African Air Force's Waterkloof air base. Delegates from as far afield as Nigeria and the Ivory Coast will be joining those from the southern African states to see the mix of military and civil exhibits.

The Africa Airlines Conference runs alongside the show and with talk at Dubai of the pending search for a foreign equity partner in the very profitable South African airports authority, there is a lot of business to be done.

Source: Flight Daily News