SOURCE: Satyajeet Kumar/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
For last few years India has been working out to streamline its export regulations and also streamline its export licencing policies to make way for export of Indian made weapons to the world and allow it to break into the exclusive club of defence exporting countries within next decade.
Africa could be one of the Defence markets which India like to enter before it can break into other exclusive markets in the middle east and South America. Price sensitive African Defence export market is clearly dominated by Chinese weaponry and off course due to corruption and Chinese Government diplomacy, it is also the only market which could be the ideal market for India to start off with before thing smooth-ens up in other regions.
According to International arms report nearly 2/3rd of weapons used by Armed forces of African nations are of Chinese origin and recent boom seen in the export of Chinese weapons is largely attributed to its success in the African market. China has supplied from small firearms like Pistols to much more advanced weapons like Main battle tanks, drones, fighter jets and even long range Surface to Air Missile system in the region.
Basic understanding of Chinese success in the region in sales of weapons is tied to their economic projects taken up Chinese government in African countries which has also lead to Chinese defence companies tasting success in securing orders for their defence equipment in this countries.
In price sensitive market like Africa, Weapons deals are usually traded of with economic deals with Chinese companies which usually means many countries enter into a barter system with the Chinese government, where the cost of supplied weapons is usually recovered by economic activities like from rare earth minerals or through other similar deals.
Chinese African Defence Success is slowly but steadily declining due to various factors and sales in the region from 2017 and 2016 have been under the predicted sales growth and one of the major reason for this decline is due to poor quality of supplied Chinese weapons and second major reasons being the poor quality of training provided to operate them .
Chinese companies are also not been able to provide proper after sales support in the region which has attributed to lack of newer orders while demand for weapons still remains high. While few countries in Africa are still under the strong grip of Chinese government which will ensure them further defence contracts to Chinese companies will come in future but there are few pockets of countries who are also looking at other countries to meet their weapons requirement and these select few countries could be what India is looking for kick start its export of Made in India weapons .
Indian Private defence companies in past have supplied Military grade Light Trucks to many Army’s in the region but India is yet to sell any significant weapons system in the region but increase presence of African delegations in India’s Premier Defence and weapons exhibition like Defence Expo and Aero India suggests that many are exploring India has an alternative to China in sale of defence equipment for their defence forces .
While it will be difficult for India to break into Arms market in Africa which is dominated by Chinese companies, but it does provide India with a market which is price sensitive and is very keen on purchasing cheaper weapons but also is looking for suppliers other than Chinese companies. India traditionally has enjoyed very good relationships with most of the countries in the Africa and lately also has been competing with China for investment in the region