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Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 at 6:12 AM
Low value. Corrupt. Aid-driven. Despite the odd exception like Algeria, and South Africa's indigenous defense industry, most people think of these terms when they think of the African defense market. Analyst firm Forecast International sees a different picture, however: "tomorrow's growth market for the global defense industry."
This assessment didn't come from reading Nigerian email solicitations. F.I. admits that overall African spending isn't expected to suddenly become impressive: 3.5% increases year-on-year from 2007-2011 to .9 billion, with under 20% of defense budgets slated for procurement. That isn't much to write home about, but "African Market Overview" author Matthew Ritchie sees the opportunities in much more specific terms:
"...looking at the confluence of burgeoning security requirements and vast oil and [natural] gas reserves in the context of high energy prices and it becomes readily apparent that there is a collection of Africa nations demonstrating procurement characteristics reminiscent of the Middle East three decades ago."
Algeria, Libya, and Nigeria are cited as key examples of the energy-wealth driven increases, and their specific increases are both higher and more procurement-driven than other African governments'. Growing oil production around the entire Gulf of Guinea could lift other boats as well, creating other nations with "rentier governments" with a correlated interest in overhauling their military capabilities in order to secure their position against external or internal hostility.
The African arms market has traditionally featured a US/European vs. Russian focus, thanks to the Cold War. Russia's lack of interest in the uses its weapons are put to will continue to make them somewhat popular, and their Algerian natural gas for arms squeeze play aimed at Europe remains the most significant arms deal on the continent. China is a growing player in this market, however, for reasons that combine their 'no strings' policy and growing ties to the region created by China's resource needs. Nigeria's 2005 buy of J-7 fighters is a good example of that trend, and the relative low cost of Chinese export offerings is a plus in this market.
Despite all this, Forecast International reports that American and European share of the total value of arms transfer agreements with Africa rose from 34% to 37% between 1999-2002 and 2003-2006. As the oil market drives key military modernizations, will that trend continue?
Oil Driving Long-Term Growth Prospects in African Arms Market
by Forecast International
December 3, 2007
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