Swedish security and defence group Saab’s South African defence and security company Saab Grintek Defence (SGD) has expanded its client base and grown its staff complement, explaining that SGD has a solid order book to 2020, firmly positioning the South African security and defence company to grow further.
“We have built a remarkable organisation by partnering with South African companies and investing in skills and enterprise development, to ensure that our high-tech business has local access to the specialised skills and services we need to meet our global customers’ needs,” says SGD president and CEO Trevor Raman.
With about 10% of SGD’s revenue allocated to pure research and development, the defence company supplies and supports products and services in air, land, sea and civil defence domains, including electronic warfare, acquisition and communications, lead integration systems, and command, control, training and simulation.
He explains that SGD, part of one of the world’s most highly technologically sophisticated and research intensive companies, concluded a 25% plus one share deal with African Equity Empowerment Investments late in 2015.
Presently, SGD has grown to be Saab’s biggest operation outside Sweden, employing 719 people across its three sites in South Africa. Since January 2015 alone, 198 new staff have been employed across various specialised fields. He points out that 60% of the company’s staff are in training at any given time, with 12 bursars and 39 learners participating in external programmes.
SGD supports 11 companies as part of its incubation and development initiatives and also supports eight projects that focus on community-based socioeconomic development. With 80% of its orders coming from other countries, most of SGD’s locally produced products are exported, bringing valuable income into South Africa.
One of its most significant recent deals is a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division. The MoU highlights SGD’s strategy to take South Africa’s indigenous technology and products beyond local markets with well- established expert partners that add value to its supply chain and open new markets, says Raman.
He says SGD was named Exporter of the Year in 2013 and 2014 by the Department of Trade and Industry, and that the company remains focused on investing within the country’s borders to further create jobs and boost export revenues.
“In addition to actively seeking export opportunities, SGD works closely with the South African government to identify opportunities to supply cost-effective and high-performance defence solutions, contributing to South Africa’s defence sovereignty and self-sufficiency,” Raman explains.
SGD has a range of monitoring, recording and communication management products and services designed, developed and manufactured locally, meaning SGD is well positioned to grow its role as a key contributor to the growth of South Africa’s knowledge and export economies.
“An example is SGD’s TactiCall solution, currently used by the South African Navy and the South African Police Service. TactiCall ensures seamless communication between different emergency management services, regardless of the radio band, frequency or hardware that they are using,” he says.
Saab Kenya business development executive Håkan Ekvall explained last year, at the sixth annual AidEx Conference, held in Brussels, in Belgium, that defence and security technology is playing an increasingly crucial role in the success of humanitarian aid work in vulnerable regions globally.
He says that companies that offer integrated and customised solutions to meet needs in diverse situations are going to be the service providers who remain relevant and effective in post-conflict situations.
“It’s a human right to feel safe. Defence and security technology is increasingly being used to save lives in myriad, unexpected ways and to aid humanitarian organisations supporting recovery and development in conflict zones. Post-conflict zones suffer from damaged or destroyed roads and infrastructure and a lack of medical facilities, they require maintenance of saved or salvaged equipment, and there is an increasingly need for ongoing protection against potential flare-ups of destructive activity,” Ekvall explains.
He points out that the theme of last year’s AidEx conference was localisation and delegates explored how collaborating with local communities could improve the effectiveness of humanitarian efforts.
“Defence equipment and personnel are well-equipped to operate under these conditions, and can support humanitarian missions in even the most remote areas,” says Ekvall.
He points out that areas with protracted crises require aid workers to demonstrate sensitivity by working with communities and stakeholders on the ground. Careful planning, with local leaders, is essential to addressing the growing gap between needs and resources.
“Saab offers a holistic solution to humanitarian aid teams, offering a far deeper service than just bringing specific products to market. Our solutions are compatible with multiple platforms, meaning that particular elements can be retrofitted into an aid agency’s existing solutions,” says Ekvall.
He explains that Saab provides a broad range of products services and solutions within military defence and civil security to the sub-Saharan Africa and South African markets. A range of defence forces across the globe are using South African electronic warfare and avionics technology that is designed and produced at SGD facilities in South Africa.
Ekvall points out that Saab has business units and local employees in Cape Town, Gaborone, in Botswana, and in Nairobi, Kenya, with operations and employees in about 40 other countries globally.
“Through innovative, collaborative and pragmatic thinking, Saab constantly develops, adopts and improves new technology to meet customers’ changing needs,” concludes Raman.