Defence firm Paramount sees African demand as threats rise

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - South African defence company Paramount Group is seeing demand from African states battling insurgencies and other threats such as wildlife crime, its chairman told Reuters on Monday.

Ivor Ichikowitz, chairman of Paramount Group, gestures during an interview with Reuters at the International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates February 22, 2021. REUTERS/Khushnum Bhandari

“There are some very real jihadist and fundamental threats in Africa which are affecting the entire continent,” Ivor Ichikowitz said at Abu Dhabi’s Idex defence exhibition.

He did not name the countries looking to buy more equipment. African states including Mali and Nigeria are battling insurgencies linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Ichikowitz said he expected Africa to be a substantial growth market over the next two to three years, with potential sales for armoured vehicles, vessels and aircraft.

He also said countries were interested in acquiring intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

“These issues are here to stay for a long time to come,” Ichikowitz said of the insurgency threat.

Demand was increasing, in part, because African states were not able to acquire the equipment from Chinese suppliers, or were looking for more “sophisticated” capabilities, Ichikowitz said.

Africa accounts for about 30% of Paramount’s annual revenue, he said, similar to the Gulf Arab and Central Asian regions, respectively.

Paramount, Africa’s largest privately-owned defence firm, does not disclose financial details.

Ichikowitz said there was also potential for significant growth in the United States, which currently accounts for less than 10% of revenue but could increase to 15-20% in the next two years.

That would be driven by sales of services and land systems such as armoured vehicles and related equipment, he said.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell. Editing by Mark Potter