Cape Town — The UK is actively seeking to supply high-tech security and surveillance equipment to SA in time for Fifa’s 2010 Soccer World Cup, either on its own or in collaboration with South African firms.

Central to the equipment the country can supply is a device called ‘The Monitor’ which when put into a stadium can remotely monitor human behaviour and alert police to a potential security threat, Adam Thomas of the UK’s trade, industry, defence and security organisation (UKTI) said yesterday.

He said the UK was aware that SA was looking all over the world for defence and security equipment and that the UK, which has already run a successful European championship as well as having been awarded the 2012 Olympics, had a role to play “and would like to share these mechanisms with SA”, said Thomas. He also said the UK would use SA’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition, which starts at Ysterplaat Air Force base today , to woo South African companies to look at investment possibilities in the security and defence industry in the country, possibly extending to joint ventures.

Thomas said during a preview day of the exhibition yesterday that his organisation was aware of the improvement “on a daily basis” of SA’s defence industry and that it needed an export market.

The UK annually spends $12bn- $15bn on home defence procurement, with more than 40% of such contracts awarded to overseas companies.

For this reason UKTI, which keeps close contact with the UK ministry of defence, was encouraging South African companies in various sectors to pursue the possibility of supplying the UK armed forces and come into contention for bidding for contracts. To do this UKTI was, according to Thomas, making it very easy for such companies to be considered for contracts in the UK by merely giving notice of their capability, size and potential, as well as registering on a website and, for $240, receiving the Defence Contracts bulletin listing all contracts.

“We are not saying that South African companies can come and win a million-dollar deal. What we are saying is that the climate in UK is very good for joint venture partnerships using SA’s expertise and low manpower costs, and combining it with our technology to form joint ventures and then bid in the UK ,” said Thomas.

He said the idea was to establish long-term investment collaboration which could take advantage of business opportunities in the UK’s defence and security industry and even be extended to export to third countries.

Thomas said that in addition to ‘The Monitor’, the UK’s security industry could also offer unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, the best body armour in the world for protection, mechanisms to detect activities from vans, cameras that could “do things quickly”, and a vehicle jointly developed with Gencor which could be used as a police or security vehicle.

“We could offer a range of stuff, not necessarily high-tech. What we would like to do is use companies in SA, in partnerships with UK companies, which together could supply equipment for 2010,” said Thomas.

PUBLICATION: Business Day
AUTHOR: Chris van Gass
DATED: 17th September 2008