Defence contractor Denel aims to anchor a viable long-term partnership with the South African Navy. Denel might well be spending more time in Simonstown after recently taking to the proverbial seas with its recently launched Maritime Africa division, which is an unexpected change of tack for the state-controlled company.
Denel has been a respected name mainly in ‘landward defence’ for decades – and recognised as a leader in the development of long-range artillery and mechanised infantry vehicles. Denel CEO of Integrated Systems and Maritime Ismail Dockrat said the new division was meant to diversify the company into a range of new capabilities and new markets. Dockrat said it was striking that Denel had not had the same relationship with the SA Navy (SAN) as it had historically held with the SA Air Force (SAAF) and the SA Army.
“So, if you look at the Defence Review, which was approved in Parliament earlier this year, it calls on Denel to play a stronger role in the maritime environment.”
He said the maritime division’s key objective in the next year was to become a strategic partner to the South African Navy.
“From that foundation we want to play a broader role in terms of supporting other navies in the region as well as working with the South African shipbuilding and ship repair industry to grow the industry to the benefit of everybody in that sector.”
“When I talk about the maritime industry I refer particularly to the shipbuilding and ship repair industry as well as our naval infrastructure and ports infrastructure in the country and we believe there are enormous opportunities to grow the maritime sector.”
He stressed Denel’s role should also be viewed in the context of ‘Operation Phakisa’ – a government initiative aimed at stimulating activity in the maritime sector in order to fully realise the potential of South Africa’s ocean economy.
He stressed Denel was not going into the business of building ships, there were strong players in the industry that the company could partner with both locally and globally. “So we are there to form partnerships with others and to offer our value proposition.”