A renewed scramble for African resources has led to the continent becoming an arena for strategic and geopolitical competition which requires Africa to ready itself for possible multi-lateral conflicts within the next 10-15 years, says Tracey-Lee Zurcher, director of the upcoming Land Forces Africa conference and exhibition in Johannesburg in May. Says Tracey-Lee: "the world is looking to Africa as a lucrative playing field, but with increased international attention comes the risk of increased threats, therefore creating a definite need to ensure that African defence forces can address pertinent macroeconomic factors over the next 20 to 30 years."
Future of Africa's wealth depends on it
For Africa to respond accordingly, according to the Land Forces Africa director, will require co-operation among African countries and across all military forces in order to protect lucrative natural resources and national wealth and as well to prevent internal conflict as a result of predicted overpopulation.
She continues: "national defence forces will also be required to support high-profile peace missions and post-conflict reconstruction in war-torn areas. It is clear that the future of Africa's wealth and security depends on the strategic building of capacity and presence of resilient landward forces throughout the continent over the next three to four decades."
According to Tracey-Lee this will require tremendous system upgrades and the acquisition of modern defence equipment and technology, "and over the ten years, we expect African defence forces to strategically build capacity, prioritising light and motorised forces, airborne and other rapid entry forces, intelligence, military engineering, logistics support systems as well as conventional and mechanised elements of landward capability."
Defence budget increase
Land Forces Africa's Tracey-Lee Zurcher notes that the increase in the South African defence budget that was announced in Parliament last month is putting South Africa on the right track, but that "efforts need to be focused, not only on acquiring the most cost-effective and adaptable technology for the territory but also with an approaching at promoting standardisation in African defence forces in future".
The Land Forces Africa conference and exhibition will gather some 400 leading African defence force officials and security industry stakeholders to discuss the collaboration and streamlining of landward military operations in Southern Africa and further abroad, to counteract internal and external threats.
The conference programme will feature more than 30 industry experts, emphasising the push for a joint military approach in Africa, including:
• Lieutenant General Chander Prakash, Force Commander, MONUSCO, UN, Democratic Republic of Congo
• Mr El Ghassim Wane, Director: Peace and Security, African Union, Ethiopia
• Lieutenant General Vusimuzi Masondo, Chief of the South African Army
• Major General Gaolathe Galebotswe, Commander of Ground Forces Command, Botswana Defence Force
• Ambassador Sisa Ngombane, Deputy Director General – Africa Multi-Lateral, DIRCO
• Martin Reeves, Manager: SA Army Portfolio, Armscor
Well-known security industry technology experts who will be there include representatives from SAAB, Denel, Grintek and BAE Systems.
Event dates and location:
28-30 May 2012
Gallagher Estate, Johannesburg, South Africa
Event website: www.landforcesafrica.com